Today I was shopping at one of my newly-discovered natural food stores in town, and I found myself amazed all over again at the huge variety of organic and natural foods out there. For so long I, like too many others, thought that it was too difficult to eat more organic food because there just wasn’t much organic out there, and what was there was too expensive. How wrong I was! It’s true that some organic stuff can be expensive, but plenty of it costs about the same as what I used to buy at mainstream stores (cereal is similar in price, as are crackers, grains, yogurt, etc). As a person without health insurance, I see the extra I pay for organic as paying on my own “health insurance.” I don’t mind paying a bit more for non-hormone-laden cheese, for example, or for non-hormone chicken and turkey (although I’ve seen organic chicken and turkey cost the same as non-organic at Publix, believe it or not). I’m also learning to buy the high-risk items organic first, such as dairy, meats, and most produce, and then if I need to save a few bucks I’ll buy other things non-organic (but as natural as possible).
What do I avoid no matter what, though? Peanuts/peanut oil/made on shared equipment, any non-pronouncable chemical (or any chemical, for that matter), preservatives, MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, trans fats, artificial colors. I try to avoid “natural flavoring” as much as possible, as this is nothing but chemicals mixed together to recreate a flavor. Seems like a lot to avoid, doesn’t it? I thought it would be. When I started reading labels after developing my peanut allergy, I was disgusted at how much “food” for sale in grocery stores is so far removed from an actual, natural foodstuff that it is no wonder we are plagued with a laundry list of health issues. I was happy that the Publix stores in Florida have begun offering lots more organic options, but it still seemed like not enough. I figured heck, there will be more options when more companies realize the value of making organic products. Little did I know how many *already do*!
The store I was at today, Nature’s Finest Foods, carries so many different brands and kinds of everything from grains & pastas to soups, oils, flavorings, shells & cheese, refried beans, cookies, chips, sodas, frozen foods, dairy, produce, supplements, beauty products…and on and on and on. And everything is organic or natural; most is organic. Lots of it is from local producers. While some stuff is pricier, again most of it isn’t that much more. For example, I bought some Triscuit-like crackers called “Quilts” for 3.19; at Publix, Triscuits are 2.99. While Triscuits are fairly innocuous crackers, I’d rather spend the extra .20 to eat an organic product and support organic producers. I also found an organic cereal that looks to be a great change from another non-organic cereal I like; the price is about the same (maybe different by .20 at most, if that), and the company has been around since 1971! This might not be news to a lot of you reading this, lol, but that really hit home. There *are* lots of companies making better food—most people just don’t realize it.
Which brings up a entirely new problem. Why don’t more people know about all the organic stuff available? Why does is seem that Kraft and Nabisco et al have cornered the market on food? People say all the organic stuff is “so expensive,” and of course prices are higher for it because less people buy it, overall. But do other stores OFFER it? While Publix is starting to, other stores in this area certainly don’t. If as many grocery stores carried all the organic brands as often as they carry the frankenfood brands, the prices would come down. So…why do we see only Kellog’s and General Mill’s and Post in the cereal aisle (sometimes Kashi is there, and maybe 1-2 other makers)? Where are the other 10-15 brands I saw at the natural food store?
We think we have such choice in this country…but our “choices” really are controlled and manipulated.
Here are some of my fav organic brands…try them if you ever see them!
—Annie’s Naturals: Mmm I love so many of their dressings!
—Annie’s Homegrown (different company): Love their “Peace Pasta & Parmesan” (the box is too cute!) and the whole wheat shells & cheese. Great stuff.
—Amy’s: LOOOOVE the spinach pizza, spinach pizza “eggrolls,” and the soups
—Back to Nature: Mint chocolate oreo-like cookies are *better* than Oreos!!! One of the few chocolate things I can eat that is sans peanut.
—Stoneyfield Farm: Thanks to GD, I tried their Chocolate Underground yogurt…oy vey. ;-) Mmmmmmm. Also good is the Caramel Underground.
—Organic Valley makes yummy organic cheese; I love that they are a co-op of organic farmers.
UPDATE: As I was about to post this, while adding the links, I found this article! “How the feds make bad-for-you-food cheaper than healthful fare” at Grist.org.