Thursday, February 11, 2010

Organic, Local, and Free Range, Oh My!

Going... going... going... GONE!

That GONE! would be us, heading out the door of ye olde typical foodstore and into the world of organic, local, free range food. Actually, we are not quite gone yet, because it just is not so easy to figure out how to manage that sort of diet on the type of budget us young parents (one working full-time and going to grad school, the other about to start a 10-hour per week position, both with a yacht and a train and an airbus, or maybe two, of student loans) to manage. But we are going to manage it. And I am going to keep updating on the blog just how we manage to do it. Will I be a tipster, much? You betcha.

There's just no reason to allow your baby to eat this food, even through my breast milk. And it surely is not helping me or my husband eating food like this, either. Let's be clear here, though-- I do not judge anyone who does not eat organic because it IS going to be a hard monetary transition with a lot of calculation, strategy, and planning. Maybe after switching to cloth diapers, I feel like I can research and figure out something a little more complicated than fluffy baby butts, but I feel prepared to make this move. Maybe watching Food Inc. (WATCH THIS MOVIE!) went to my head, but I just don't think this switch is going to hurt anyone, other than hmm... McIdon'tcarewhatIfeedyouIjustwantmoney. And maybe, just maybe, having worked at a Whole Foods in high school somehow rooted a respect and aspiration for eating organic, though my neurotic and ignorant little high school self never would have expected to write this post in the future.

Okay, Sharkie, here's the deal:

Ammonia, Pesticide, GMO-Free: Eating ORGANIC and GMO-free
I am seriously freaked out at the thought of eating chemicals. When you're little, you don't intellectually digest what you are eating. Now, I do. And when thinking about my baby consuming insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, fungicides, and antimicrobials (ya know like bleach, chlorine dioxide, yum, yum, yummy stuff like that), I really do feel a sinking feeling in my stomach. I understand why and how the process of modern food production and distribution includes such chemicals, and though there are not many studies proving that regular old produce is extremely harmful, I feel a lot better removing my family from the production lines of e.coli-infested spinach. There are certain foods that have less crap on them (Here is a Shopper's Guide to Pesticides from the Environmental Working Group), especially thicker-skinned produce like avocados, so I am sure when cost comes to shove, we may still purchase some conventional produce.

I also feel there is just something to be said for produce as it was meant to be grown, produce as it was meant to be sized, chicken as it was meant to be fed, etc. etc. etc. And how I want to say something for that natural food, is to just plain eat it.

I also understand why genetically-modified organisms exist (it makes a lot of the ins and outs of food production easier and cheaper), but I do not want to eat them anymore. There's more to my rejection of GMO, and I will not even go into the politics of it right now, though. To be honest, eating GMO-free (Here is a GMO-free shopping guide.) is not going to be easy, because these products are in so much of everything. But we are going to try!

*The Eco-Friendly Family Blog wrote a great little post about eating organic which included both of the helpful links included in the section above. Read the post here.*

These Farms Exist: Eating LOCAL
No, maybe you have not heard of them, but they are there. At least in Southern New Jersey they are. In fact, I found two local organic farms (amidst many regular old farms) within 40 minutes of our home. One of them even sells meat-- though I am not sure of the logistics of the meat purchasing yet (we don't have the storage capacity or the money to invest in, um, an entire cow right now). I honestly cannot WAIT to get there. If you live in Jersey, please go here to find a farm near you.

Why is local so great?
Well, first of all, local is local. That produce and food was grown and raised right where or near you bought it. LESS pollution from distribution.
Secondly, when you buy local, you are purchasing something from a business in your economical area. Supporting your local farmers is one way to help them in this economy, and in return, you are helping yourself by circulating your cash into your community.
Thirdly, I am hoping that because this food is coming pretty much from the source, it will be less expensive than the produce and meat at a place like Whole Foods, where distribution costs are part of the price. A price comparison remains to be seen, but essentially, this should wind up being true.

To be fair, the drawbacks?
You have to eat what is in season. I.E. No fresh tomatoes in February. If we want to keep eating the recipes we eat now, we would have to buy most produce at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in off-season time.

Cheese and Crackers: Eating FREE RANGE
Frankly, I just can't handle the way most companies and large meat farms handle their animals. I love animals, and it pains me to read, watch, whatever, the conditions these animals live in while being raised, and I cannot handle the process used to slaughter animals.

am I not a vegetarian? Well, I tried it once in college, and I kept getting sick because I was not the best at managing my vitamins and protein. What I learned from that unsuccessful run is that I am not really against eating meat or animal products, but I am against how these products are provided to us. Because humans are naturally carnivorous. And humans need, in some sense of that word, meat.

I have no problem eating, say, some ham that came from a pair of pigs named Cheese and Crackers who were raised living in a healthy, happy environment on a farm in Vermont (I never ate these pigs, but they did exist at the Weston Priory when I was a little girl, and if my parents told me the truth, the monks ate them at some point). The other reason why I would not even consider going vegetarian or vegan at this point is that my husband is not getting on that wagon, nor would I put my children on that wagon, and I am not planning on maneuvering duo meal planning. It's not realistic.

So we go free range, eating animals that roamed around in a field and saw light while they were raised. We eat animals that were not so stuffed and fattened in small quarters that they could not walk while they were raised. Essentially, I hope we'll be eating animals like Cheese and Crackers.


To be clear, this shift is going to be quite the process and we are in-

Come on now and take a ride with us.
And please, wish us luck!


  1. I watched Food Inc. I'm just confused as to how we're supposed to get GMO free corn, soybeans, and other vegetables. Aren't nearly all the seeds used by farmers GMO? I just watched the World According to Monsanto and was shocked to see how hard it is to eat this way. Basically anything made from corn, soybeans, potatoes, and possibly tomatoes are going to be GMO..even if you just buy the seeds yourself. Are you going to avoid these products? I have some farms near me that supply free range meats. I may investigate it as an option.

  2. I totally agree that GMO-free is going to be difficult. From what I have read so far (if I understand it correctly), most organic produce is gmo-free, but you are right-- non-gmo sweet corn, (papayas, and yellow squash, too) is almost impossible to find in the U.S. I think eating gmo-free will have quite the learning curve. I'll be sure to update if I discover some good brands for gmo-free corn/potato/soy bean products.

  3. Love this blog! The getting rid of meat is not so hard if you just cut down, as I've talked my boyfriend into. He loves making lentils and beans, who would have thought? I don't eat meat, but still eat fish (only about once a week), but I admire anyone who will at least think about this issue-not just for the environment, but for a child's health! Good luck! I look forward to seeing some veggie recipes!

  4. Thanks, Kim! I'm definitely shifting to a more veggie-heavy diet. I have a lot to learn, and I will definitely share successful veggie recipes.

  5. Love this post!! Have you looked into getting a CSA farm share? They are awesome!