Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simplifying Your Switch To Whole Foods- Perishables

Quick Update: Many of you know that my family of 4 is eating whole and local on $400 per month.  I have positive news for you!  NO food is going to waste!  Our fridge has maybe one grapefruit by Thursday and we eagerly await the arrival of our produce box at 1:00.  Can you just picture Natalie, Noah and I peering out the storm door with our lips out, just waiting for a snack?  OK, it isn't that dramatic, but we are definitely ready for the new weeks supply of food, but at the same time, I love that our food fuels us, and doesn't go to waste rotting in the fridge because we bought too much.

If you are new to my blog, welcome!  We are currently taking a food tour that I hope will help families simplify their switch to eating Whole and local foods in 2012.  You can check back to earlier posts regarding budgeting and the introduction.  Today we are on to Perishables...

Perishables produce, dairy, meat

This post is dedicated to perishables in the produce isle.  I have given my whole foods sequence a lot of thought, and I came to the conclusion that starting with perishables is the easiest.  It's the easiest for 3 reasons: one, an apple is still an apple, and it isn't confusing or different as to how you eat it or prepare it.  You just buy an organic or locally grown one instead.  Second, you won't have to feel guilty about throwing stuff out of your pantry and starting fresh- you are buying produce and other refrigerated items weekly, so it is easy to switch over quickly.  Third, it is the easiest to grasp WHY you should be eating it in its organic form.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize you don't want a bunch of chemicals and pesticides along with your salad.  Unfortunately there is one reason why this is the most challenging- the cost.  Our perishables are the most expensive foods we eat when it comes to eating organically and locally.  However, if you get over the initial sticker shock, I truly can show you how to save, AND how to make these items go further to save you money in other areas.

The pesky "dirty dozen" is something that most of us have heard of.  It is a nice little cheat sheet showing us the worst conventional (not organic) fruits and vegetables to eat.  It is said that when tested, numbers between 90-100% of individual fruits/veggies tested positive for at least one, if not more pesticides.  One strawberry alone tested positive for 14 pesticides, and imported grapes- 14 as well!  They are as follows:
sweet bell peppers
domestic blueberries
lettuce- most likely to retain pesticides
kale/collard greens

CSA's and Local Produce Companies

CSA at Cane Creek Farm, Cumming, GA
A CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and many family farms around the country participate in this program.  The farmer forecasts what their crop will be, and lets customers buy a share of the crop for the growing season.  Most offer about 1/2-1 bushel of produce per week.  What I love about buying produce locally is that you can ask the farmer directly if they spray pesticides.  They may not be certified organic because they may lease their property (certification takes 3 years, and would be a waste of money if they lose their lease for some reason), or the cost may be too high for the smaller farm.  YOUR main concern as the consumer is to know that they don't use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. 
Another fabulous option with CSA's is that many of them offer worker shares.  You go to the farm and help harvest for 4 hours one morning a week and get your produce FREE!  Start looking for a local farm now because they start planning between now and February.  I suggest just googling "Local farm in "insert your city" or look at  They have tons of farms listed and offer some really helpful insight. 

Produce Delivery
I currently get my produce from a company that delivers local produce.  I started a co-op about 2 years ago and we now get a hefty discount on our boxes every week because we have so many members.  I suggest you look into these companies because your town just might have one!  Don't be discouraged if you live outside of the city; I live 25 miles north of Atlanta, and I get a delivery every week!  A company like this has competitive pricing, and of course, the discount helps.  Also, Because I rarely have to go to the store, I don't impulse buy, which automatically saves a lot of money (I guess I didn't NEED that haagen dazs!) 

Winter can be a little more challenging than other months especially if you live in colder climates!  If buying produce at your local supermarket is your best option, focus on foods that are in season which will be less expensive, and start buying organic options of the dirty dozen.  Fruits with thick skin like banana's or citrus aren't as dangerous, so continue buying those conventionally if your budget is tight.  And during the summer, live it up!  Stock up on berries and freeze them for the long winter.  Have a canning party with some succulent and wild friends like we used to do in Wisconsin every year growing up (miss you all!) and eat what's in season until you couldn't possibly eat another strawberry in your life!  We'll be talking dairy next post!

Happy Whole Foods,
The Huffington Post- Dirty Dozen
CSA Programs-


  1. Many of our counseling clients are looking for ways to improve their lifestyle. Your post touches on some of the advise that we give. Excellent job!

  2. Wow, thanks Livecounseling! I love helping people with these ideas, so feel free to direct your clients to the blog, or even email me with questions! Blessings, Anna