Okay folks, since your ham is congealing in the fridge, your body is suffering the glug of perpetual eating, and your wallet is a thin as your patience, I thought we all could use a reminder about Eating Poorganically!
I know that I am definitely ready to get back on my own bandwagon!
The word “rules” gives my recovering-perfectionist’s heart palpitations of dread, and the word “resolutions” seems doomed to failure, so I’ve decided to call the following list “STEPS” for helping us all make the switch to “Eating Poorganically” in 2012. Remember, “poorganics” is about making healthy choices in a frugal way that enables us to give our surplus away to others. So even if you can afford to be Uborganic, consider poorganics as a way to enable your generosity!
Those of you who are schmorganic may want to take a look at the “Half-steps” in yellow as starting points.
I am going to offer brief explanations, but PLEASE do your own research on making a poorganic change by clicking any links to read articles on the topic. If you are lazy, a blindly trusting fool, or happy to be a poorganic guinea pig (doesn’t that sound fun?!), just do what I say! **
(Please note the careful subliminal messaging I am sending with the color coding. I’m so clever.)
I have long maintained, cholesterol is totally bogus. As a skinny, non-smoking person who eats pretty well, it has never made sense that my cholesterol verged on 300 since I was 16 years old. Finally, I decided I didn’t care since the medication would have serious side effects that my sky high cholesterol doesn’t. Now after much research, I feel vindicated! Everything we were told about vegetable oils is actually bogus too! Who knew?!? Ditch vegetable oils, margarine, canola, cottonseed, sunflower, and soybean oils which are highly processed and contain a bad ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids. Our bodies actually can’t digest them very well, so they lead to inflammation and liver problems. THROW THEM AWAY! Do it!
(If you are about to protest that every recipe you own calls for vegetable oil, go read that article. Seriously, read it. R-E-A-D I-T! Then go buy some butter and live long and buttery.) Coconut oil is a better option for baking, actually doesn’t taste too coconuty, and even though it’s expensive, most recipes don’t require as much of it. I just read a book on coconut oil that was very convincing. Check it out!
Half Step: If you MUST have a vegetable oil, sparingly use canola. Avoid heating it, which will make all its problems worse.
I know, I know. A lot of you who were skeptically standing by me, have just went into jaw- dropping horror. I’ve crossed over. I’ve become a crazy. I’ve gone too far.
But I genuinely believe after research and trial that UNHEATED milk products are better. Heating (pasteurizing/ homogenizing) destroys most of the nutritive qualities of milk. AND the nutritive portions are in the fat, so when we drink pasteurized skim milk, we are really not getting those nutrients.
Now, you might be wondering about organic milk and my previous assertions about dairy. Basically, if you can’t find raw milk, I think that you are better off finding un-homogenized, or low-heat pasteurized milk than drinking organic milk, which is ULTRA HEAT pasteurized. Ultra heat pasteurization basically means that the ever-living-everything has been boiled out of it. It isn’t exactly BAD for you, but it just isn’t that great. For your money, you might as well drink cheap, regular non-RBST milk. As for cheese and other dairy, I opt for raw if I can, but I just accept the pasteurized much of the time because of price.
I guess the one I would say is definitely BAD is ultra pasteurized skim milk that doesn’t have the non-RBST disclaimer. Maybe Soy milk I would put in the same category. . .
UPDATE 4-2-12: Because raw milk made our bowels WAY too loose for WAY too long and whole milk turned me into an acne factory, we have gone back to plain old pasteurized 2% milk, which is not organic. I know it is an atrocity, but we have to compare ACTUAL results to proported ones. In our case, the ACTUAL results weren’t workin’ for us.
Soy is bad. All the derivatives of soy in processed food are pretty bad. The only kind of soy that is good is fermented soy, which is natto, miso, tamari, tempeh, and soy sauce. Other than those uses, try to avoid soy and ANY product with soy ingredients. Here’s a list of many of the names for soy and products that contain it. For processed foods that contain soy, try to buy organic to ensure it isn’t genetically modified soy, which non-organic almost always is. If you can’t have dairy, try switching to coconut or almond milk instead of soy milk.
Grow your food or buy it from a local farmer. If that isn’t an option (in winter), buy organic produce. If you can’t afford organic, buy conventional produce and wash it thoroughly.
Most grocery stores contain “local” food that is at least from your state. Even buying frozen or canned produce is better than filling up on processed foods. In the winter I buy lots of inexpensive produce from a co-op or ALDI, which is not local, but is better than garbage food.
Take your grocery budget and start spending AT LEAST 1/3 on fruits and veggies or your garden. For me this means, I HAVE to spend $35 a week AT LEAST. If you aren’t used to this, you might initially throw away produce at first. Don’t give up. As your supply of garbage food dwindles, you will begin to eat up the fresh healthy food that is there. If you don’t have Cheez-Its, your kids might try carrot sticks. They might whine at first. (Mine did.) Yet slow and sure they are starting to forget the old processed food. Also, they will get hungry and be so desperate that they’ll eat crazy stuff, like broccoli. It is nice being able to offer them ANYTHING we have, knowing that they have no choice but a healthy one.
(I know. I said “rule”. But someone else made up this “rule,” so don’t blame me. Plus it’s a good one.)
If you’re not sure whether or not your food is processed, follow the 5 ingredient rule. Foods with more than five ingredients (made by someone other than you) can be considered “processed.” Avoid foods with more than five ingredients because they are “processed.” Obviously, there are exceptions like trail mix, but generally speaking, this is a good guideline. If you really want to buy a processed item, try to buy organic because at least then the ingredients are GMO, hormone, and pesticide free. With items like Triscuits, which are less than five ingredients, but contain soybean oil, I have to make a judgement call.
This step, more than anything else, will save you a TON of money. Suddenly there will be dozens of items that you just WON’T buy. At first it might feel kind of annoying, but let me tell you it makes couponing and shopping SO much easier to just NOT buy those things. Toss the coupons, skip the aisle, and spend less time worrying about how fast your kids tear through snack bars and chips. All that money can go toward apples, bananas, nuts, raisins, carrots, beans, cheese, and other HEALTHY foods.
Just do it. Stop buying white flour and “enriched” or “refined” flours. Use white whole wheat flour and whole wheat bread. Avoid products that contain “enriched” flour or “wheat flour,” which doesn’t mean the same as “whole wheat.” Use grains that retain the bran, fill your tummy, and provide fiber. The number of “enriched” products eliminated from your diet will astound you and will fatten your wallet while slimming your waste. Obviously, you might periodically opt for white rice instead of brown, or order a pasta dish that isn’t offered with whole wheat pasta, but make the decision in your home to EAT WHOLE GRAINS.
High fructose corn syrup has become everyone’s favorite demon. Likewise, most people agree that too much sugar is bad. But there is still debate about all the other options, especially the lower calorie and “natural” ones. Most sweeteners are not expressly good for you, even the “safe” ones. You can do you own research on your favorite, but the long and short is this.
Raw honey, maple syrup, and blackstrap molasses are THE ONLY “natural” unrefined sweeteners that actually have nutritive properties. Sucanat or dehydrated sugar cane juice retains some value, but even that is processed.
If you have to buy sugar, make sure it is “real cane sugar,” preferably “raw cane sugar” which will ensure you’re not getting sugar from genetically modified sugar beets. ALL other sweeteners, including agave, aspartame, stevia, etc. are processed, unhealthy, and should be avoided. The exception would be stevia that you grow yourself.
When you STOP buying sugar, you will be healthier and you will save money with which you can buy raw honey and maple syrup. We have found raw local honey does wonders for my husband’s allergies! Plus it is so flavorful. Pasteurized honey is heated and many of the nutrients are lost. Support your bees; buy local honey.
Truthfully, we still have a long way to go on cutting sugar, but I know what it comes down to is that I just need to STOP buying and using so much sugar. I need to make myself pay the super expensive $5 for 1 lb of Raw Cane Sugar. Then I will be viciously stingy and only let my kids have one granule a day.
Step 8: Become Flexitarian
“Organic”, “grass-fed”, “natural”, “cage-free”, and “wild-caught” are just a few buzz words in the organic meat word that are code for EXPENSIVE. We flat out cannot afford to eat as much meat because of the prices. I knew that we wouldn’t become vegetarians, but I just wasn’t sure what we could do. Well, even before I knew the word “flexitarian,” we had become that. Basically, we follow what I call “The Poorganic Thirds” with regard to meat.
–I buy about 1/3 less meat than I did before. We eat more beans and eggs, which are cheaper.
–I buy about 1/3 of our meat organically or grass-fed, focusing on meats like lunch meat, sausage, and ground products that are heavily preserved and have scary additives.
–For the remaining 1/3, I buy the safer kinds of meat that I did before, canned tuna, wild-caught salmon at ALDI for 5.99 a lb, chicken that hasn’t been injected with saline.
For meal planning, I try to make something with meat as a “centerpiece” about twice a week. Twice a week, we eat vegetarian, normally omelets one meal and bean quesadillas another. For the remaining meals, we do “meat-light.” Meat-light could be spaghetti with half as much meat in the sauce, or chicken soup that is heavy on the veggies.
I guess the Poorganic thirds is a half-step (or third-step?) to eating all our meats organically, but since we financially can’t swing that, this works in the meantime. Actually, the rule of thirds may be a good way to transition all areas of eating. Buy 1/3 less of the bad thing. Buy 1/3 organic or local. Buy 1/3 the same (if you must.) This keeps your budget the same and your eating better!
Step 9: Stick to your Exceptions
This is going to sound strange, but we all know that there have to be exceptions to any system. For example, I don’t care what you say or do, I am only going to eat Duke’s Mayonnaise. (Forever and ever. Amen. In heaven, there will be Magic Eraser and Duke’s Mayonnaise. I know it.)
I barely survived two years in Papua New Guinea without it, and actually had to have my sister mail me some from the other side of the planet.
Therefore, despite the condemned soybean oil, Duke’s is one of our exceptions. I also buy Cheerios, which are more than 5 ingredients, but a necessary part of my sanity for those days when another bowl of granola just doesn’t cut it.
Go ahead and make some exceptions that you feel okay about and then, STICK TO THEM. In the store, don’t make new exceptions while you shop.
The reason that you can actually save money while buying more expensive foods is because you completely eliminate so many cheapo garbage foods from your diet. When you don’t know your “exceptions” and stick to them, you will not save money. Also, if you have NO exceptions, you will probably not save money because you will be forced to always buy the expensive organic versions of everything.
Step 10: Eat at Home
Make a menu with the poorganic food items you ALREADY have because you bought them on sale or with a coupon. (Read The Naughty List if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Be a tyrannical control freak in your kitchen. Make stuff from scratch. Throw out margarine. Be a sugar-Nazi. While it is called today, stick to your menu and the Poorganic Steps.
BUT When you go out to a restaurant, try to make poorganic choices, but don’t expect too much. Just enjoy the break from cooking. When you go to someone’s house, so-help-you, eat whatever they give you and don’t complain or tell them one single thing negative about their food–even if you think they need to know. Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
In fact, I recommend this as a good time to eat 12 Oreos and thank the good Lord for them. Being a real food snob is a private art. Cultivate the art of poorganics at home and then allow yourself time away from home to make exceptions. That way you won’t have to feel embroiled in wrath when your child’s classroom’s party snacks are ALL horrifically unhealthy. You can just smile when you realize how little transfatulated food your little carrot-stick convert has actually eaten.
So, that’s it! 10 places to start. Try to do them all because they work together. If you cut margarine, but you eat scads of sugar and soy, you probably won’t feel too different. If you want to print the steps, here’s an abbreviated list that you can make notes on.
I’ll try to post about menu planning, and shopping strategies as the year progresses. Please let me know what you’d like me to research. Also, I’d LOVE you to share The Poorganic Life with a friend. (You know. The one who served you the Oreos. ;))
**I sincerely hope that this goes without saying, BUT I am not a health expert or guru or doctor. I am just one of those people who reads a lot of stuff on the internet, synthesizes it, tries it, and then makes WILD claims about it. You have to determine for yourself if Eating Poorganically is for you.
I’m delighted to be linking up to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda.com