Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Part 2

When To Buy Organic

Of course, it would be great if everything we bought was organic. But if you’re short on cash, and aren’t we all, there is a significant difference between crops. This chart is awesome for sussing out you fresh fruits and veggies. I first discovered this two years ago, and was especially interested in the apples being second. Yikes! They seem so innocuous. Potatoes are at about the midway mark, so I make an effort to get them organic. I was surprised to see broccoli and cabbage so low on the list, because they’re prone to a lot of disease and things in the home garden, so I expected they’d be high. And it’s a relief not to worry about onions, we go through tons of ’em! I had remembered carrots being low though, and they’re not. I had been buying those at the Winn-Dixie, and I guess I’d better knock it off.

1 (worst) Peach 100 (highest pesticide load)
2 Apple 93
3 Sweet Bell Pepper 83
4 Celery 82
5 Nectarine 81
6 Strawberries 80
7 Cherries 73
8 Kale 69
9 Lettuce 67
10 Grapes – Imported 66
11 Carrot 63
12 Pear 63
13 Collard Greens 60
14 Spinach 58
15 Potato 56
16 Green Beans 53
17 Summer Squash 53
18 Pepper 51
19 Cucumber 50
20 Raspberries 46
21 Grapes – Domestic 44
22 Plum 44
23 Orange 44
24 Cauliflower 39
25 Tangerine 37
26 Mushrooms 36
27 Banana 34
28 Winter Squash 34
29 Cantaloupe 33
30 Cranberries 33
31 Honeydew Melon 30
32 Grapefruit 29
33 Sweet Potato 29
34 Tomato 29
35 Broccoli 28
36 Watermelon 26
37 Papaya 20
38 Eggplant 20
39 Cabbage 17
40 Kiwi 13
41 Sweet Peas – Frozen 10
42 Asparagus 10
43 Mango 9
44 Pineapple 7
45 Sweet Corn – Frozen 2
46 Avocado 1
47 (best) Onion 1 (lowest pesticide load)

What I haven’t been able to find out about is dry goods. Wheat flour, rice, oatmeal, beans. I’d really like to know, so if anyone out there has any info on the respective “bad-ness” of said crops, please let me know. I’ve been buying non-organic wheat flour lately, because I don’t have a bulk source available, and 5 lb bags are so expensive!

If you eat much soy, check out this Soy Report from the same folks who did that organic dairy review, The Cornucopia Institute.

Buying Bulk

Back in Cordova, I used to order from a company called Azure Standard. They carry most everything that you’d find in a health food store. If you live in the Pacific Northwest they deliver for free (the minimum order is $500, but that is surprisingly easy to fill, especially if you get a few friends in on it). If you live anywhere near to, you might be able to have your order shipped for a reasonable price, via a trucking company. Living in Alaska I had my orders shipped up by barge and even though for heavy stuff like flour the shipping almost doubled the price, it was still worth it. A 50 lb bag of organic high protein whole wheat flour cost $25, add on (for Cordova) $30 for shipping. That’s still only about $1/lb, which was cheaper than the local health food store that only sold flour in 5 lb bags.

I haven’t gotten myself together here yet. There is a food co-op that does bulk orders, I really need to sign up. I asked around and the prices are usually slightly cheaper than Whole Foods. If you have an opportunity to buy bulk, even if the savings do not appear much, they add up. Often if you’re willing to get a ton at once, you can get the organic version for the same price as a little bag of standard stuff at the grocery store. It also instills a different way of thinking about your pantry, and your cooking, which cuts down on trips to the store and impulse buys. These bulk ordering gigs are usually called “Buyer’s Clubs.”

I have to admit, Costco has a very large selection of organic stuff. Of course, I wouldn’t trust ’em farther than I could throw ’em, but it’s gotta be a bit better….?

Lastly, if you’re just starting out buying in bulk, a word of caution. Do not buy 50 lbs of something unless you are sure you’re going to use it! This sounds obvious, but I myself have occasionally wasted some food buying bulk. Just be careful, and plan it out.

I have one last offering for this topic, coming soon:

Solace and Support for Non-Menu Planners!

7 thoughts on “Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is, Part 2

  1. interesting thing about storage though too–i’ve noticed from living in MI that, esp. in the summer, i don’t want a bunch of food hanging out in the heat. stuff that never spoiled in alaska spoils here. also there’s a greater risk of varmints, etc.

    i’m headed to nicaragua for a conference. did you stay in managua? any tips?

    1. yeah, i think that’s why i haven’t really pursued the bulk ordering club yet, i’m not sure how useful it would be here. flour is one of the main things i would want, and flour definitely doesn’t last that long in heat.

  2. I live in Georgia and so far have had no problems with storing wheat berries in plastic buckets with lids. I have a grain mill and buy 50 lb. bags of Wheat Montana Prairie Gold wheat at the Whole Foods about 60 miles from here. The grain mill is the best purchase I have ever made! Try the fresh mill-it-yourself flour at Whole Foods and taste the difference! I used this flour for a few months and then decided to get my own mill, because we just didn’t get down there often enough, and I kept running out of flour. Gamma seal lids are supposed to be the best, but right now I just use ones from Home Depot. Our weather is almost a hot and humid as yours down in New Orleans, so storage is important. I am going to do this with Oatmeal and Rice next.
    By the way, I love you and your blog…..I discovered you last week and in my spare time have been going through the archives. I am 59 years old, and I’m the mother of 4 grown children….34, 32, 29, and 25 years old. I have been doing most of the things you blog about for so long I can’t believe it! Reading you brings back lots of memories for me! Nursing babes to sleep in your bed, with a fan to block out the noise of an older child is the way I handled the sleep issues. I remember with my first, trying to get him to his crib when he went to sleep, only to have him pop right back up. Several months of sleepless nights led me, in total exhaustion to bring him to my bed and we slept for hours! This was before “The Family Bed” and other such books, so I was not sure if I was doing something horrible or not! All I knew is I needed sleep! Soon Mothering Magazine and LLL publications began to write about sleeping with your baby, and I relaxed.
    Anyway, I am glad to have found you and love being inspired to keep on with my efforts to live more simply.

    1. welcome linda!
      thanks for the vote of confidence in grain storage. unfortunately, the strongest allergic reaction i ever had was the one time i was in the room when someone turned on their wheat grinder…. i could barely breath for quite a while, it was scary. so, no grain grinders in my DIY future… boo hoo.
      glad you found me. it’s small round here, so if you comment a few times, i’ll know who you are.
      i have been doing this stuff long enough to understand the importance of What Makes People Stick to It. and, yeah, i have found the blog world a great inspiration to keep at it.

  3. I know this is an older post, but I’ve been reading your entire blog more or less compulsively since finding it. (And by the way, thank you, thank you, thank you! A bitchin’ homemaker-supporting blog with real-life swearing is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for, and yours is better than I could have hoped.) But this post gave me pause, because I just have to ask, how can kale possibly rank 8th worst in pesticide load when it’s probably the easiest possible vegetable to grow organically? More pesticides on kale than on imported grapes? Really? I’m just skeptical, because my garden experience with kale is that it’ll grow in any soil, it’s pest free and if you let it self-sow it’s almost invasive. I’m confused as to why anyone worth their profit motive would need to spray kale that much. Any ideas?

    1. maybe it’s because the spray goes right onto the part you eat…? maybe grapes don’t get sprayed while the fruits on?
      i really have no idea, and wouldn’t necessarily trust anything i read, in general.
      don’t you love kale and all it’s vivacious will to survive?

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