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Eating Organic


WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

By Diane Di Costanzo. Photographed by Brad Barket and Daniel Root

Country Living Magazine

What's it like to feed a family an all-organic diet for a week? Diane Di Costanzo finds out.

 

The Challenge

For one week, I agreed that I would purchase only organic groceries for my family and report to Country Living on how it went. Like most Americans, I don't have an organic supermarket around the corner from my home. Nor do I have an unlimited grocery budget, so logistics as well as cost and time were factors I considered. The first order of business was determining exactly what "organic" means. According to standards set by the USDA, the label "100% Organic" indicates that the meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products you're buying are free of antibiotics and artificial growth hormones and that produce has been cultivated without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or sewage sludge. Likewise, any product that has been irradiated or that contains bioengineered ingredients cannot be labeled organic (to learn more, go to ams.usda.gov).

Day 1: Stocking Up

"On Day 1, my fridge is empty and totally sponged down in anticipation of filling it with a week's worth of organic food." To do so, I drive 15 miles from my home, in Redding, Conn., to Westport's Wild Oats, a national chain of grocery stores in which 70 percent of the produce and 40 percent of packaged goods are organic. The 40-minute round trip takes more time and gas than I'd normally budget to buy groceries, but the store is incredibly clean, manned by knowledgeable personnel, and stocked with everything from organic oregano and frozen waffles to organic cream cheese, cantaloupes, tea bags, garbanzo beans, and oatmeal cookies. I purchase $157.32 worth of organic food.

Day 2: Corner Store

Despite yesterday's shopping spree, I still need to pick up a few items. During a quick stop at my regular grocery, I calculate that roughly one percent of the entire store is devoted to organic packaged goods, dairy products, and produce. Finding what I need is not a problem, but there aren't many choices. There are only two organic cereals, for instance, one organic tomato sauce, and one brand of organic milk.

 

Day 3: Eating Out

Eating organic at home is easy. Finding a quick meal out, even in New York City, proves harder. I head to Savoy, a downtown bistro that serves organic food. Although the word "organic" does not appear on the menu, chef/owner Peter Hoffman says the food is not only organic, it's grown locally and served in season. I can't taste the absence of pesticides, of course, but the beef with fried yucca and crème caramel are wonderful.

 

Day 4: Taste Test

Lily, 13, skips her usual lunch of a PB&J sandwich and chips and packs an all-organic one — Stonyfield Farm yogurt and a turkey sandwich — instead. Oliver, 11, misses his Total, but says the Kashi Organic Promise Strawberry Fields cereal is pretty good. He deems Amy's Kitchen Organic Cheese Pizza "the best pizza he's ever had." We all enjoy a dinner of organic chicken sausages grilled by my husband, Steve. So far, so good.

 

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