Keepin’ it REAL… “Food” for thought….

 FOOD.

I just couldn’t stop thinkin’ about it….

But as I strolled the produce aisle of the La Montanita CoOp (hub of all things local and organic in Albuquerque), I was distracted…nay… shocked, by the hefty prices. One mango would steal a whopping 15% of my food budget for the day, should I choose to place it into my organic hemp reusable shopping bag, (for the use of plastic is a serious faux pas amongst “green” folks).

But remember, you’re voting with your dollar, I said to myself, struggling to recall those determinations I felt after watching Food Inc. for the first time. I had vowed to do my part to change the world, one local, organic, free-range, hormone and anti-biotic free egg at a time.

Yet here I stood, turning this fruit over in my hand, pretending to examine it when in reality all I saw was my budget shrinking before my eyes as I anxiously pondered, What would Michael Pollan do?!!

But seriously. How does a pastor’s wife, music teacher, and stay-at-home Mom with a passion for eating well, support the local/organic economy and feed her family REAL food, without blowing nearly $4.00 on a single mango?

For those of you who empathize with this dilemma, we can all agree that this is a tough place to be in. Sometimes, it’s just not realistic, nor wise for our pocketbooks, to shop exclusively organic. But the more I learn about the dangerous chemicals, preservatives, and GMO’s in our food, how can I feed my family these harmful non-food items, and still sleep at night?!

As a wise friend feeding 4 growing children on a tight budget always says:

“Do what you can, and pray the rest of the way.”

I agree, and I do. But it’s often hard to know which “hills” to die on, and which battles to walk away from when it comes to buying food for the family.

I’m not going to attempt to reiterate what many others have already said much more poignantly on the subject of eating and buying real food, but if you’ve done any reading lately about the state of our nation’s food, you too will want to fight to keep it “REAL.”

Allow me instead to just encourage you with a few things I’ve learned about how to eat well and not break the bank. These may not be new ideas, but they’re good reminders:

1. Buy what’s in season. Out of season produce tends to be more expensive, not to mention, not as tasty.

2. Buy local. SUPPORT your local farmers and economy. Try a CoOp or farmer’s market. It would even be worth it to track down a local farmer and go there in person. Don’t you want to know where your food comes from?

3. Plan your meals. Don’t shop when you’re hungry, and don’t go without a list, and try to stick to the list! (This coming from a girl who just caved in to buying a slice of carrot cake this afternoon…definitely not on the list….and definitely LOVING every bite as I write!)

4. Shop where you can get the best deals. This may take some time to figure out, but start keeping track, of how much things generally cost at the stores you go to, and then try to tailor your list based on where the best deal is. This may mean running around town a bit, but is worth it.

Here’s my own breakdown for shopping in Albuquerque (in addition to the CoOp):

Trader Joe’s

Seems to have the best deals on dairy. Their cheeses are very well priced and almost all of them are hormone and RBST free. I also usually buy eggs there. They have good free-range and hormone/antibiotic free eggs. Also, they’ve got a great selection of wines at reasonable prices.

Sunflower Market

They have a huge produce section and a good organic selection therein. I refer to the Dirty Dozen list of foods to buy organic, and as for the rest, I just wash ’em really well!

Keller’s Farm Store’s

Great option for well-priced, local, organic meat fare.

Whole Foods

Their meat and fish market is awesome. I think they are pretty well priced as well. They also have a lovely bakery. Everything else is rather pricey.

These are the places I shop mainly. Other good options are the Natural Market on Coors, and the Vitamin Cottage on Montgomery. P.S. Notice I didn’t mention Smiths or Albertsons? That’s because they have a terribly small organic/natural section and it’s all WAY overpriced compared to these other places….IMO.

Anyway, don’t take my word for any of this…..click on some of these links I’ve included and check out some of these things for yourself! There’s a wealth of info. out there!

H A P P Y    E A T I N G    E V E R E Y O N E  !!!

…..And in case any of you were wondering…yes…I did cut the cheese at Grandpa’s Cheese Barn.

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