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.
Day 5: At the Farm
Even in winter, my local farm stand — Holbrook's, in Bethel — sells organic
hothouse greens. Owners John and Lynn Holbrook have not yet sought organic
certification for their farm, as it would be too costly (about $20,000 they
estimate). Although John says his produce is grown — and has been grown for
decades — without pesticides, he is no longer legally allowed to label his
Day 6: $$ Matters
"Why do most organic meats, produce, and packaged goods cost 20 percent
more than conventional?" I ask Sandra Steingraber, an ecologist and author
of Living Downstream (Random House; 1998). Organic farming relies on
labor — which is costly — instead of chemicals, Steingraber explains. But
modern farming practices can exact a price we don't tally at the register.
Among its costs: polluted water and soil and depleted ozone.
Day 7: Last Supper
Overall, I paid $50 more this week for groceries I know to be pesticide free
and easier on the environment. More than anything else, the week has taught me
that the little decisions I make while grocery shopping have a huge impact on
the long-term health of my kids. In that light, the 50 bucks seems well
Although I spent more than usual on my weekly groceries, organic food was
readily available and not quite as expensive as I had originally thought.
Organic packaged goods and snack foods — rice mixes, chips, salsa, ice cream,
wine, even dog food — were pricey and added up quickly. If, however, you stick
to more wholesome fare and purchase grains, nuts, cereal, flour, and sugar from
the bulk bins, you can reduce your grocery bill considerably.