How to Make Organic Affordable Part 2

Earlier this week we discussed which fruits and vegetables matter most when it comes to spending money on organic. Today, we’ll continue by discussing other areas where spending money on organic foods matters and how to prioritize to make the best choices based on your family’s financial abilities and needs.

Eggs

Eggs are one of the BEST foods on God’s green earth in terms of nutritional value. They are nutrient dense, contain healthy and necessary fats, and are packed with protein. In other words, they’re a major bang for your buck! Your best option is eggs from local, pastured, humanely and organically raised chickens. This is another time when it’s imperative that you KNOW YOUR FARMER. Just because your local farm hasn’t been certified organic doesn’t mean your eggs aren’t being raised that way. Even if they aren’t certified, pastured eggs are still better than store-bought organic eggs because they are more nutrient dense. That’s because their mommas are exposed to sunshine, eat real, whole food, and have a chance to get the exercise they need. Happy, healthy chickens = good eggs! Since local, pastured eggs are such a super food this is one of the best places to spend for quality. If you can’t afford to use pastured eggs for all your cooking needs consider using them in their natural form (sunny side up, hard-boiled, etc.) or in raw applications like smoothies and salad dressings. For items like baking, use a flax egg replacer where the difference is less obvious.

Milk

Milk follows eggs in importance of organic, pastured, spend your money here, in my opinion. That’s because eggs are so versatile and can sub in when you can’t afford organic, pastured meats. However, milk is still important. I personally consume little to no milk. It’s a personal taste, preference, and opinion. In my opinion, anyone over approximately two years of age doesn’t need nor should have milk, particularly milk that isn’t from a human being. I realize, however, that most American families do consume milk on a regular basis in some form or another. Since milk is so widely consumed, and raw, pastured milk can be very nutrient dense, I believe this is a time that it’s worth spending the money. Of course, this includes all milk products from cream to yogurt to butter. Start small and build your way up if you can’t afford for all your dairy products to be raw and pastured, or at least local and pastured.  Begin with milk, then butter, add cream, and then try products like yogurt, sour cream, etc. Consider learning to culture different types of dairy at home, it will save you a significant amount of money. Start with yogurt, it takes a while, but doesn’t take more than about 10 minutes of your time and is WAY cheaper than buying it from the store if you use a lot of it. This also allows you to flavor and sweeten it anyway you like so you have healthier options available. Then try making your own butter and butter milk, sour cream, cheese, etc. as you gain skills, equipment and knowledge.  (Note: Spend the money to buy pastured, local milk if you wish for yogurt making. However, take into consideration that if you are culturing your yogurt with heat raw milk will no longer be raw. Check out Cultures for Health for cultures that allow you to make yogurt on your counter top and without a heat source if you’d like to use raw and keep it that way.)

Beef

Conventional beef is anything but humane and it’s truly lacking in many of the incredible nutrients grass-fed beef supplies. This means that while grass-fed beef costs more, it will save you money in the long run by providing more nutrient dense calories, omega-3 fatty acids, and superior vitamin and mineral content. Your investment will be two-fold, however, because not only will you be getting the immediate health benefits, you’ll also save on future health costs by taking care of your health now. If cost is an issue for your family, consider replacing only a meal or two a month of conventional beef with grass-fed beef. Every little bit helps. You can work your way up to replacing each serving over time. In the mean time, try to find a few extra bucks in your budget here and there and put them into a separate savings or a ‘beef share’ envelope. Even if your monthly contributions are small they will add up over time. Once you’re able to buy a share, you’ll have enough meat to last you for some time. For each month you paid for in advanced you can set aside a predetermined amount of your food budget to go towards your next share purchase. Of course, using every part of the animal that you can will also stretch your dollar. If your family is into organ meats, or you can convince them they are, or you’ve found a great way to disguise it, use that meat to stretch things even further. Organ meat is some of the most nutrient dense meat there is and the organs of grass-fed beef will lend serious health benefits. To be honest, we’re not even close to considering it, let alone actually eating them. It’s a personal choice, that’s for sure, but if it’s one you’re willing to make, you absolutely should. Save the excess fat and render your own tallow. This fat is highly desirable and is said to make amazing French fries. Last but certainly not least, use those bones! Beef bones and connective tissue make delicious nutrient-dense stock. Making the stock yourself is cheap, especially if you’re already paying for the bones, it’s easy, and the stock is another way to deliver an incredible amount of essential nutrients to you and your family. If you don’t have room in the freezer for your stock, consider investing in a pressure canner and preserving it for future use. Something else to consider is the fact that one cow produces a TON of marrow bones. You may not need all of them for your family, but have the butcher cut and package them anyway and sell them to locals through sites like Craigslist, a local farmer, or a farm stand with a freezer. Other people will be happy to buy pastured bones for cheaper than they can get elsewhere and the extra bit of money you make off the sales can go straight to your funds for your next share purchase.

Poultry

Depending on what part of the country (or world) you live in buying ‘organic’ poultry may be more or less important. Here in Idaho, and in many similar areas, buying local, free range, humanely raised chicken is as safe or safer than organic chicken, may cost less, and has been raised on local pastures just miles from the kitchen it’s prepared in. If for some reason this isn’t available to you or it doesn’t fit in your budget look into organic chicken at wholesale clubs or co-ops where bulk orders may lower your overall costs. Local, humane, pastured chicken here runs about $4.00/lb but organic chicken at the wholesale club about five miles away from us is $1.99/lb. There is a significant savings when you’re dealing with a limited budget. However, the opposite might be true in your area so do your research before you spend your dollars.

Seafood

The accessibility and cost of seafood in your area will largely depend on your location relative to its source, be it salt or fresh water. This will remain true whether you’re buying wild or farmed seafood. Different seafood products have different farming practices and some are better than others. If farmed seafood is the only affordable option available to you, take the time to do serious research into the source of the seafood, how it’s raised, and what it’s fed. You may find that even the cheapest option isn’t a good value when you consider contaminants and the potential for harm to your health. At that point, you’ll have to decide whether to do without completely or buy smaller quantities of better quality. Invest your dollar wisely in seafood. Wild caught will likely be your best and healthiest option. However, since most of us are on a limited food budget it’s important that we buy foods like wild caught salmon that carry the biggest bang for their buck by delivering all important omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately there is a lot of labeling fraud in the seafood industry so do your research. Last, but most certainly not least, consider sustainable seafood options.

Prioritize

Just because you can’t afford to buy everything organic, local, and pastured doesn’t mean you should just overlook making changes. Every little change helps protect your health and nourish your body. Look at the suggestions I’ve made above and do some more research on your own to make the best decisions about which options are most important to the health of you and your family. We all have different life styles, we all like different things, we all live different places, and we all have different budgets with varying numbers of mouths to feed. What works for me will not necessarily work for you. What’s most important to me will not necessarily be the most important to you. Take a look at your lifestyle now, what means you have, and what needs you have. Then make goals for the changes you’d like to make to your current lifestyle. Most of us won’t be able to make all these changes at once if for no other reason than our budgets but making small changes now will lead to big changes and better health in the future.

Do you purchase any of these products? Has finding room in your budget for these things been easy or difficult? Have you found that the investment has been worth it? Are their other things you consider high priority that you spend money on for the sake of your health? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section!

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