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Eat Clean for Less
10 ways to stretch your organic food dollars
BY Karen Edwards
Does it feel like your weekly grocery bills are approaching the national debt?
Food prices are definitely on the rise, but this is no time to stop buying organic.
Deborah Madison, chef and author of Seasonal Fruit Desserts, refuses to compromise.
“Buying organic remains incredibly important to me,” she says.
“I know the damage that’s done through conventional farming and genetically modified crops, and it’s considerable.”
Michael Stebner, executive chef of the sustainable-food restaurant True Food Kitchen, agrees that organic shouldn’t be considered a luxury:
“There is this negative stigma to organic food prices, but you’re buying quality.”
Still, if price is an obstacle, there are ways to cut costs without compromising on quality.
Here, chefs and other food experts offer their best strategies.
1. Know the “Dirty Dozen.”
When money is tight, says Stebner, focus on the “necessary organics,”
those fruits and vegetables on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list (or the latest list, released in June, see below).
“In general, if it has a skin you don’t eat, it’s OK to buy nonorganic to stretch your dollars,” he notes.
2. Rethink the center aisles.
The conventional healthful-shopping advice is to favor the perimeter of the store, where fresh fruits and veggies reside.
But the center aisles also can be a great source of organic bargains, says Linda Watson, author of Wildly Affordable Organic.
“Here’s where you’ll find organic dried beans, rice, tea, and flour for bread, and all of it is affordable,” she explains.
Seek out store-brand organic products, which tend to be less expensive than those found in the natural-foods section,
says Teri Gault, founder of thegrocery game.com and author of Shop Smart, Save More.
Cindi Avila, a vegetarian chef who has competed on the Food Network’s Chopped, recommends browsing the international food aisle.
“Much of the food here is organic, natural, and inexpensive,” she says. “And when you’re not seeing the same ingredients,
it forces you to think outside the box and come up with different menus.”
3. Use coupons.
“Yes, they do make coupons for organic groceries,” says Paige Wolf, author of Spit That Out!
Log on to mambosprouts.com, organicdeals.com, and recyclebank.com for the latest deals.
“Whole Foods has its own coupon book, which you can clip online at wholefoodsmarket.com/coupons,” she adds.
And don’t be afraid to ask for a bargain, advises Domenica Catelli, a recurring judge on Iron Chef America and owner of Catelli’s restaurant in Geyserville, Calif. “If you know of a lower price on an item, ask the store to match it,” she says.
“Not all stores will do it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.”
4. Step outside the supermarket.
Farm stands or farmers’ markets, where you can buy local produce in season (and often in bulk), can be a real value, says Mark Kastel, cofounder of the Cornucopia Institute. Foods tend to be cheapest at their seasonal peaks, and just-picked quality will inspire you to eat it all up.
5. Choose sturdy, multipurpose veggies.
If you’re throwing away parts of your food, you’re throwing away money. That’s why buying produce, such as pumpkin, where both the flesh and seeds are edible is a good bargain, says Tracy Wilczek, MS, RD, LD, a dietitian with Florida’s Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa.
Broccoli is another economical option, says Madison: “Everyone eats the tops, but if you peel the stems you can use them in soups and salads.”
“Sturdy” vegetables, such as carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower, are also smart buys.
“Other vegetables wilt right away, but these will last a while,” says Watson.
6. Edit your spice rack.
Dried herbs keep their potency for about six months, so it doesn’t make sense to keep spice racks loaded with full jars, says Wilczek: “If you’re using dried herbs, be picky. Buy only what you’ll really use.” Natural-foods stores and some supermarkets offer organic herbs and spices in bulk, so you can measure out what you need and pay by the ounce. (Tip: when discarding expired jarred spices, clean the jars and reuse for your bulk buys.)
7. Grow it yourself.
When it comes to fresh herbs, grow your own, advises Catelli, who keeps a couple of herb pots on her windowsill.
Next time a recipe calls for fresh rosemary, skip the $2.50 clamshell pack in the produce aisle and head for the store’s flower department.
Invest $4 on a small rosemary plant, and you’ll have a steady supply of the herb for years to come.
“Why buy herbs when they’re so easy to grow?” asks Madison.
Thinking beyond herbs, Mark Simmons, a caterer and contestant on season four of Top Chef, says the best plants for first-time gardeners are disease-resistant, high-yield veggies, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, peas, and bush beans. He also recommends spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. “These greens will produce all season long,” he says.
8. Fatten your freezer.
When it comes to stretching food dollars, the freezer can be your best friend, says Kastel:
“Buy fresh fruits and vegetables in season, eat what you can, and freeze the rest.”
Frozen organic fruits and vegetables (again, seek out store brands) can also be a bargain when fresh produce goes out of seasonplus, they’re convenient, says Wilczek: “The produce has been cleaned and is ready for use.”
Gilda Mulero, a natural-foods chef and cooking instructor, offers another tip: throw freezer leftovers into a blender and whip up a smoothie.
“I freeze spinach, chard, beets, strawberries, and blueberries and make a smoothie out of it with coconut water.
It’s my power smoothie,” she says.
9. Can it!
Buying produce in bulk and canning it is a way to save cash, as well as extend the summer growing season.
“Food co-operatives and extension offices are offering more canning classes, and they’re filling up,” says Kastel.
“It’s part of a new self-sufficiency mind-set.”
Suvir Saran, executive chef and partner of New York’s D’avi Restaurant and a contestant on this past spring’s Top Chef Masters, suggests another way to preserve local produce when it’s in season: prepare chutneys and relishes.
Because of their acidic content, they can sit on a shelf unopened for up to a year if appropriately processed and canned.
10. Hone your knife skills.
Mulero says learning to use a knife is one of the first skills she teaches students.
“The cut-up fruits and vegetables in the market are usually three times the price and three times less quality,” she notes.
Rarely are they organic, and precut produce doesn’t last as long in your fridge. Better to trim, chop, and dice yourself.
The New Dirty Dozen
According to the Environmental Working Group’s latest findings (just released in June), these are the 12 most pesticide-laden conventionally grown fruits and vegetables, followed by the 15 lowest in pesticide residue. This year, apples move from the No. 4 position to No. 1 on the Dirty Dozen; mushrooms make their first appearance on the Clean 15. Shop accordingly.
Dirty Dozen (buy these organic)
6. Nectarines (imported)
7. Grapes (imported)
8. Sweet bell peppers
10. Blueberries (domestic)
12. Kale/collard greens
Clean 15 (least contaminated)
2. Sweet corn
6. Sweet peas
9. Cantaloupe (domestic)
13. Sweet potatoes
The Importance of Eating Organic – The Dirty Dozen
How can you be healthier and contribute to the planet? Eat organic. Pesticides, herbicides and other scientifically engineered chemicals seep into the ground and our water. Eventually we are ingesting these toxic compounds that were developed to kill living organisms. These chemicals reach the colon and remain there, making the colon toxic and slowly poisoning our body. These chemicals may also be linked to certain childhood diseases, such as ADD, and cause rivers and wetlands to suffer by pollution.
Organic soil contains microbes that provide essential nutrients that cannot be found in artificial fertilizers. These helpful bacteria, algae, fungi and protozoas help to transform compost chemicals into healthy nutrients which are easily absorbed by plant roots.
Compared to the conventional marketed vegetables that are synthetically grown, organic foods are filled with the essential vitamins and minerals that others lack. Mother Nature is solely in charge of organically grown fruits and vegetable and some believe that organic foods actually taste better. Compared to gigantic pink strawberries shipped from far away and stored in plastic boxes, freshly picked red-ripe ones are much sweeter.
What is the most cost-effective way to ‘go organic?’ Shop your local Farmers Markets. Their produce does not usually come from industrial agricultural farms, like most grocery stores, but rather from smaller family farms. Although not entirely organic, it is a healthier option. Prices can be negotiated when purchasing the bulk of your produce from one farmer, helping keep the costs low. Especially when the fruits are ‘in season,’ you are guaranteed a great deal!
[Also Read: Going Organic to Treat Depression ]
What about processed food? Do I have to buy those organic? The average American consumes processed food daily and it is important to understand that every package of processed food contains canola, soy, or corn in some form. This implies that processed foods that do not carry the USDA Organic mark contains food that is genetically modified. Take time to be concerned of your health and avoid buying processed food at all. When you do purchase processed foods, avoid buying products that lists corn, soy and canola as an ingredient and take into consideration buying 100% certified organic to avoid eating food that is genetically modified.
If you have been following the blog for a while you have heard me talking about Bob’s Red Mill and their wonderful line of products often. If you are new to the site, this may be the first time you have heard the name. Bob’s Red Mill Brand is my preferred flour brand that we use in all the recipes we post. Not only do they carry wonderful flour they also have incredible grain products, which we use regularly. They have an array of wonderful products which they carry in bulk from sea salt, oats, rice, beans, cereal, soups, and so much more. If you haven’t had an opportunity to take a look at their site, please do at Bob’s Red Mill.com. They are currently running a 20% off special on the organic flour. They also have a sale section listed at the top of their site where they run specials on items daily. We highly recommend this flour and use it in countless recipes on the site. We love a good bargain, and wanted you all to be sure to get every bit of savings available. They carry the large 5 and 25lb sizes as well as the very small bags. When they have their sales we like to stock up, and I hope you do as well. This is a great site to pick items and get them in the large sizes and split them amongst friends and family to get the best least expensive bulk deal without the big cost of buying it all.
Have a super great day and week.
Some other favorites we get from Bob’s Red Mill that are on Sale this Month are:
Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Brown Rice Flour
Organic Coconut Flour
10 Grain Cereal
Organic Brown Flaxseed Meal
Organic Golden flaxseed (We have been using this soaked in many recent recipes listed on our blog)
Organic 7 Grain Pancake & Waffle Mix
13 Bean Soup
Gluten Free Baking Flour
Gluten Free Brownie Mix
Gluten Free Mighty Tasty Hot Cereal
**Enjoy 10% Off Everyday on any Case Packs – These are great for sharing and splitting**
Experience the SUPERIOR DIFFERENCE of Bob’s Red Mill Product Line
Preserving Nutrition Through Tradition
At Bob’s Red Mill, we know that you can’t rush quality. That’s why we manufacture our products using time-honored techniques, like grinding whole grains at cool temperatures with a traditional stone mill. This production ‘secret’ allows us to seal in the freshness and bring you wholesome, quality foods, just as nature intended.
Our beautiful stone grinding mills are much like the ones used during early Roman times. And to this day, our quartz millstones remain the best way to produce the finest products available. Unlike high-speed steel rollers, our stone mills ensure the most nutritious parts of the whole grain remain, so we can pack all-natural goodness right into your bag.
Milling, Testing, Packaging, Distributing—All Under One Roof
We’ve known from the first day we opened our doors in 1978 that to make the best products possible, we’d have to be able to do it all ourselves. And with our state-of-the-art milling, packaging and distribution facility located right in Milwaukie, Oregon, we’re able to guarantee quality, every step of the way.
Bob’s Red Mill takes great pride in handling all aspects of the production process in-house, starting with processing, washing and inspecting the grain, and ending with shipping the finished product to your door.
Each product undergoes extensive quality control tests within our in-house laboratories. During this testing phase, our gluten-free offerings are segregated from our other products, and tested in special gluten-free-only ‘clean room facilities.’
But don’t just take it from us; you can actually see the results of all our hard work. With our special clear packaging, you get to be the final judge of the quality and freshness of our products, before you take them home.
Sourcing the Finest Products
from Our Farms to Your Table
Our relationship with our product starts at the source, with the farmer who produces the grain. We maintain personal relationships with farmers from across the country and make an effort to visit their farms. Together, we ensure that we’re offering the best product available, while always using best practices.
Ensuring Certified Organic, Whole Grain Goodness
We often hear the question from our customers, ‘What does organic really mean?’ It is, simply, a label assigned to foods that are produced without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and that do not contain genetically modified organisms (more commonly known as GMOs). Organic food production also supports farming methods that are deemed environmentally sound.
We’re proud to offer one of the largest lines of organic, whole grain foods in the country. When you see the ‘USDA Organic’ label on our products, you’ll know that to earn that label, Bob’s Red Mill had to complete a rigorous certification process through the USDA’s National Organic Program.
Our Most Popular Organic Products
- Organic Whole Wheat Pastry FlourView Details »
- Organic Corn GritsView Details »
- Organic KashaView Details »
- Organic 7-Grain Pancake MixView Details »
MEET THE REAL BOB
Before you get to know about our business, you need to meet the man behind it — Bob Moore. You’ll recognize his friendly face on our products and if you ever tour our mill or visit the Bob’s Red Mill Whole Grain Store and Visitor’s Center you might even get to meet the man himself. For over three decades, Bob has been committed to providing people everywhere with the best quality foods available.
His passion for health and belief in taking care of one another is as strong today as it was when he first started the business with his wife, Charlee, all those years ago. Bob plays a fundamental role in the daily operations of the business and his enthusiasm and ‘honest-to-goodness’ approach are shared with every of one his employees. It’s this passion for providing the very best nutritional whole grains that has helped make us the leading name in health foods across the country.
How Bob’s red mill began
Bob’s journey began serendipitously in the mid ’60s after coming across a book about old stone-grinding flour mills. His enthusiasm was immediate and he decided to find usable stone mills, which were becoming rarer due to the domination of high-speed steel roller mills. His persistence paid off. Equipped with several sets of millstones from an old North Carolina water-powered flour mill, Bob and his wife ,Charlee, began their first mill in Redding, California.
After a few years, they decided to pursue others interests and retired to Oregon City, Oregon in 1978. On an afternoon walk, Bob came across an old mill that, as luck would have it, had a big sign out front reading “for sale”. In just a few short months, he was able to source a beautiful old mill that could stone grind flours and cereals for local customers. Word quickly spread and Bob’s Oregon City based mill enjoyed much success until 1988 when a fire destroyed the building.
Never one to back away from a challenge, Bob knew he owed it to his family of employees and loyal customers to build the business again from scratch. Rising to the challenge, he spent many years growing the business to where we are today. Our current site located in Milwaukie, Oregon is a 320,000 square foot facility covering some seventeen acres and produces thousands of products each day, all made with the same good old-fashioned techniques our customers have come to love and trust since our beginning.
A name you can trust
Trust, honesty and integrity. These are the three principles our business is built on. Our packaging is a great example of this commitment: our clear bags that let you see the high quality of every one of our products. By producing the very best in whole grain foods, we’re able to fulfill our commitment to help look after more and more people through better nutrition. Bob simply wouldn’t have it any other way.
An employee owned business
Bob’s 81st birthday was particularly special. Rather than receiving gifts, he decided to give his greatest gift away — his business. Bob surprised all his employees by giving them total ownership of Bob’s Red Mill through an Employee Share Ownership Program (ESOP). For those who know Bob, it’s yet
Another example of his kind-hearted generosity. As Bob puts it “It was just the right thing to do. I have people that have worked with me for over 30 years and each and every one of them deserve this.”
You can rest assured that every Bob’s Red Mill employee is committed to sourcing, milling, testing, packaging, labeling and selling the finest products available. After all, it is our business.
Kale, Avocado & Veggie Spelt Roll Up
Time: 5- 10 Minutes
Yield: 10 – 12
(12 Item Recipe)
Naturally Vegan & Vegetarian
1/2 Bunch Organic Kale, shredded
1 Organic Avocado, sliced thin
1 Organic Tomato, diced
1/2 Organic Green Pepper, diced
1/2 Organic Cucumber. diced
1 Organic Carrot, cut in half, sliced thin
1/4 Organic Purple Cabbage, shredded
1 Bag Organic Sprouted Grain & Spelt Tortillas (I prefer Food For Life/ Ezekiel Brand Tortillas)
2 Organic Lemons, squeezed
4 Tablespoons Organic Olive Oil
Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Sea Salt to taste
Wash and pat dry all veggies before using. You will need a large bowl, a side dish, a plate and a small bowl. Starting with the kale remove the center stocks. Chop up the kale and put it in a large bowl. You can use a food processor if you have one to get the kale small. Then take your avocado pit removed and slice it up. Make enough thin slices that there will be enough for all tortillas. Put your avocado on the small side dish and set aside. Next take all other veggies cutting, shredding and dicing then put all into large bowl mixing well. In a small bowl take the juice of 2 lemons, olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste mixing well until you form a nice dressing consistency. You are looking for the delicious lemon flavor mellowed by the olive oil and hintly sesoned by the pepper and sea salt. Depending on the size of your lemons and your taste you may want more lemon, if so add more lemons and olive oil. Take the lemon olive oil mix and dress your bowl of salad tossing well. You can lightly warm your tortilla or eat it as is, starting with the tortilla add some avocado mashing it down on the tortilla, then fill it with your kale mix and roll up. Move to the next one. You can make them small, medium or large depending on the size of roll you want and the size of the appetite of those you are feeding. Kids like them smaller while adults like them filled. Enjoy.
These make a super nutritious, delicious and affordable vegan, vegetarian meal, snack, lunch or dinner for everyone. Even if you are not a full vegan or vegetarian it is great to give your body a break from the meat with a green meal.
Organic food is grown by farmers who only use farming methods that strive for a balance with nature and system sustainability. Their methods focus on natural soil improvement and rely on inherent biological systems to produce the highest quality foods with minimal environmental impact. When you see the “organic” label on food, it means your government has certified that the farm and the food grown there have used techniques that:
- Do not use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and soil fumigants.
- Do not use sewage sludge for fertilizers.
- Do not use any form of genetic engineering (plant, animal, or hybrid).
- Do not use artificial growth hormones or antibiotics (in animals).
- Do improve the quality and fertility of the soil.
- Do protect water quality.
- Do reduce soil erosion.
- Do rely on natural biological systems for pest and weed control.
- Do reduce the impact of agriculture on our environment.
- Do produce the highest quality, great tasting food!
There are so many positive impacts to eating
organic and natural foods.
Benefits of Organic and Natural foods For the body:
Eating organic and natural foods will be limiting your exposure and reducing the negative impact chemical pollutants have on your body.
- Eliminate the intake of synthetic and man-made insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides used in conventional crop production.
- Eliminate the intake of dangerous growth hormones and antibiotics used in mainstream livestock and dairy production.
- Eliminate the intake of genetically modified foods (animal, plant, and hybrid) used throughout.
Eating Organic & Natural foods will keep you away from artificial chemicals & dangerous synthetic compounds.
Benefits of organic and natural foods for the environment and planet:
Organic and natural farming is better for the environment.
It helps provide a safer, healthier environment for everyone by:
- You will be helping keep groundwater, rivers, lakes, and oceans safe by eliminating pesticide and chemical fertilizer pollution, while also reducing soil erosion improving soil quality.
Keeping the water supply safe reduces the chemical hazards often associated with harmful run off.
- You will be helping increase the diversity of wildlife on and near farms.
- You will be helping provide safer working conditions for farm laborers and communities eliminating dangerous exposure to harmful pesticides.
OMEGA – 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega – 3 Fatty Acid is a healthy, poly-unsaturated, essential fatty acid.
There are 3 types: ALA (α-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (decosahexanoic acid). EPA and DHA which are both most prevalently found in fish oil, while ALA is found in plant sources such as flax seed.
Research has shown that a diet high in omega-3 Fatty Acids has many significant health benefits. Studies show that diets containing Omega -3 Fatty Acids can significantly decrease risks of Cardiovascular Disease, and decreasing risk of heart disease, heart Attack and Stroke, while decreasing blood pressure and decreasing blood triglyceride levels. They have also been found to be beneficial in treating Rheumatoid Arthritis.
With our current research it is great to incorporate Omega -3 intake atleast twice a week. Be sure to use unsaturated oils when cooking. Eliminate foods with trans and saturated fats.
Diets high in fiber have many health benefits. Fiber is widely known as a digestive aid which increases elimination of toxic waste from the system helping to aid the digestive process. Studies have shown high fiber diets to have a positive effect in decreasing the risk of heart disease, contributing to lower cholesterol levels and decreasing risk of heart disease. There is a great deal of evidence that a high fiber diet has the ability to help control blood sugar as well. This effect in particular has been very helpful for those living with Diabetes.
There are two types of dietary fiber insoluble and soluble. Both have proven health benefits. While insoluble fiber is found in wheat bran and whole grains, as well as the skins of many fruits and vegetables and seeds. Insoluble fiber is a poor absorber of cholesterol, but has an important function as a digestive aid as it is able to absorb many times its weight in water.
Soluble fiber is found in foods such as oats, legumes, fruits, barley, brown rice and some green vegetables. Soluble fiber breaks down as it passes through the digestive tract and forms a gel that acts to trap substances that are related to high cholesterol. These compounds are no longer able to be absorbed by the body, and are then carried out of the body through the intestinal tract. Studies have found that people on high fiber diets have lower total cholesterol levels than those who are not.
Healthy intake of fiber for adults is 26 – 35g of fiber daily. It is important to include a wide variety of both soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet to get the maximum benefits.
This essential mineral is important for all living organisms. In humans, calcium, is essential for the maintenance of strong, healthy bones and teeth. Calcium also plays a vital role in the function of our musculoskeletal and nervous system. Calcium helps manage weight and blood pressure. Vitamin D is important in aiding in the absorption of calcium.
Calcium is found in a wide variety of foods. Dairy foods are an excellent source of calcium as in these forms it is easily absorbed by the body. Dairy foods are also often supplemented with vitamin D to help maximize this absorption. If you do not eat dairy there are other sources of calcium including vegetables like broccoli and kale, meat alternatives such as beans and lentils, boney fish such as salmon and sardines, as well as calcium fortified drinks such as soy beverages and fortified orange juice.
This mineral is found in your bloodstream as part of the hemoglobin molecule and is important for good health and wellness. People with low iron often easily become tired and sick.
Some people may require more than the Recommended Dietary Allowance of iron such as vegetarians, pregnant women, frequent blood donors, endurance athletes and women in post-menopause who take hormone replacement therapy and continue to menstruate. If this is you, please be sure to get the proper amount of iron. Find ways you enjoy to incorporate healthy iron into your diet.
There are two common forms of iron from which to you can choose. The first being heme iron or animal forms of iron which offer the most bioavailability to the body. Non heme iron in plant forms which can also be a vital source of dietary iron for your overall health and wellness. Note that, non-heme plant forms of iron are better absorbed when eaten along with heme iron or animal forms.
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is an essential nutrient and plays a vital role in bone growth and vision. Vitamin A is a very powerful antioxidant.
Vitamin A can be found in a wide variety of plant and animal sources. Yellow or orange vegetables have high amounts of this vitamin A which is responsible for their color. The plant form of vitamin A is referred to as Beta-Carotene, and it is converted into Vitamin A once absorbed into the body.