Other Things Organic
Many of our favorite products were found outside of the produce bin and dairy case. Steaz organic sodas, brewed with organic green tea, were a hit with the kids, especially the root beer. Wolaver Organic Ales were Steve's favorite.
Seventh Generation dishwashing liquid is biodegradable, works as well as conventional products, and has a fresh, clean scent. And Lady, our family's pit bull mix, gobbled up Newman's Own Organics Dog Food, one of the first organic pet food lines available nationwide (newmansownorganics.com).
Tips + Trade-Offs
My all-organic week required frequent forays to more kinds of stores than I typically visit in a week. I spent more on groceries, and I was in the car, driving back and forth, an extra hour. With that said, I was impressed by the many committed people — restaurant owners, farmers, grocery clerks — who are working, one apple at a time, to make organic food more accessible.
It's possible to buy organic for your family without spending a fortune. Purchase grains, dried fruit, cereal, pastas, and sugar from the bulk bins at health-food store or chains such as Wild Oats and Whole Foods. Because organic manufacturers eliminate artificial preservatives, buy only the amount you'll need to avoid spoilage.
I gladly pay the premium for organic milk — $3.69 a half gallon versus $1.99 for regular milk — since I'm concerned about the possible long-term human effects of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), a synthetic hormone given to conventional dairy cattle to increase milk production. If you have limited funds to spend on organic produce, focus on the fruits and vegetables whose conventionally grown counterparts are most likely to contain high pesticide residue levels. According to the Environmental Working Group, this list includes apples, bell peppers, celery, cherries, imported grapes, nectarines, peaches, pears, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach, and strawberries. Visit ewg.org for a free produce wallet guide.
Consider joining a community-supported agriculture group. Members contribute to the up-front costs of a local organic farm in exchange for a weekly share of the harvest during the growing season (go to nal.usda.gov/afsic/csa).