My almost 100% organic - cruelty free grocery trip!

This week I put my money where my mouth is and I shopped at Trader Joe's. It's a natural store well known for it's "good prices" on organic and natural food. It was my first time shopping there (*gasps*). There were so many new labels to read I almost passed out. It didn't help that my children were driving mini shopping carts (which they loved) and were mindlessly running me over the whole time.

What did I get? 4 organic grass-fed, pasture raised free ribeye steaks from cows not fed animal byproducts or antibiotics. Phew! That was exactly what I was looking for....almost. The meat came from pretty far away, but if I can trust the label, the cow got to live like a cow should before slaughter. And I can't say that I'm excited about the distance, but then again I couldn't eat bananas or kiwis or oranges or pomegranates, or a lot of really tasty things if I stuck to what grows around here. That being said, I've been diligently reasearching local farms and CSAs. I also bought a dozen cage-free, vegetarian fed, organic eggs. Again, I "know" what cage-free means, and vegetarian-fed makes me think they were not fed animal byproducts, but it also means they weren't running around outside eating bugs and worms like chickens should. They probably also ate corn. All in all, I'm not sure how I feel about the egg purchase.

I got organic tortillas, mushrooms, refried beans, string cheese, dog treats, and organic maple syrup. What's up with dog treats and maple syrup? I will be tapping our trees with another neighbor this March, and so the organic syrup is a gift to that neighbor to tide them over until we get to tap our own trees....I decided to pay it forward after my other neighbor graciously gave us a bottle of maple syrup...and they have dogs. :)

The only non-organic and probably from a factory farm item was the chicken wings. I went round and round with myself on this purchase. On the one hand, the labelling was very ambigous, but on the other hand I had a husband who had requested more "easy snacking items...that were not crackers, chips, cheese, etc.) In the end, I decided to buy them this time and research my options and plan better for "snacks" in the future.

This was a stressful and emotional shopping trip. I know where I want to be with our diet, and I'm working on the steps to get there. It's going to be slow, and the learning process may be steep. And it's going to take me a while to make it "affordable". How much did this trip cost? Well....the small smattering of what I purchased above ended up costing me $42.60.  The steaks alone were $20 of my total. Plus I had about $10 in gifts for our neighbor.

Since my husband is reading my blog again (dang it!) he's going to freak out. He's not sold on cruelty-free animal products. But I am, and I'm willing to take the yelling! I just need to make sure that when I cook up these steaks, they are the best steaks he's ever eaten, so he can have his reasons for going grass-fed and all natural. *silently praying*

I don't usually buy a lot of steaks, but before I invest in a lot of meat from a local farmer, I want to be sure we can do this. That we like it, that I can budget it, that I can convince my family. The price of organic and cruelty-free animal products was the store. I think it's pretty reasonable from local farmers. Not grocery store cheap, but well priced for the quality, freshness, and labor involved. But farmers need a decent commitment and that takes money.....something that isn't ultimately controlled by me. Yowza!

Next week I plan to check out Whole Foods. I don't have one in my shopping circle, but there is a store within 20 minutes of me, so I'm going to swing in and assess the land. Whole Foods takes coupons where Trader Joe's does not. Beyond that, I have done a lot of research on local CSAs and plan to have us all set up for the 2010 growing season. I am having a harder time tracking down locally produced cruelty-free (for lack of a more all incompassing word) eggs, poultry, pork, and beef. This will take some asking around, but I'm dedicated to finding "the farm." Someday, it will be my own backyard (for eggs, honey, and produce), but that's going to take a really, really long time. ;)

My husband promised a garden expansion this summer and if that happens, the CSA plus my garden should pretty much keep me out of the stores except for bread, and baking supplies. Wish me luck!


2 Toddlers and Me said...

I would love to shop more organically etc. but you are right it is so expensive. I do make the changes where I can right now and hope one day we can afford the complete crossover.

Good luck with the garden and everything this summer!

Kim said...

I love Trader Joes and Whole Foods. The closest to us is an hour away, so I can't go as often as I'd like, but they both can have some great deals. Without a plan though, it can get pricey, so my rule of thumb is dairy at T.J's and produce at W.F. Beef & eggs we raise ourselves, so I don't have that cost, which makes it easy to justify spending more than I should. I still have a ways to go, but am glad to have found others who are on the same journey. Good luck to you on your gardening plans!

Lorrie Briggs said...

I can understand where you are coming from. I have the same issues with finding food that is within my budget yet is still healthy. I am so lucky to have a husband who has read the Omnivores Delimma and is totally sold on the idea. He told me just this morning that he is ok with me spending a little more on meat and real food. Yippee!
We have been blessed to find a local ranch that sells beef 1/2 price on Fridays. The chicken is still a bit steep. I try to buy Smart Chicken when it is on sale. Due to the fact that we eat very little meat the cost evens out. I don't think we have bought meat since the beginning of November and we probably spent around $40-50.
I am thinking about writing a post next week about why I believe it is OK to spend money on food. I am also planning to add in pictures of my kitchen and give a little insight as to how I cook.

Carrie said...

Good luck!! I love Trader Joe's and think it's VERY reasonably priced- especially for the quality and the taste. Everything is delicious. I would love to shop at Whole Foods, but it is beyond expensive- just not in our budget at all.

Blia said...

I do like living organically, but like you say, it really isn't very feasible. We make do with at least growing our own veggies though. Am following from MBC. Visit if you can

Susan @ organicdeals said...

I wish you lived near me so I could talk to you in person! There are so many things I was "telling" you through the computer reading that LOL.

First - get hubby Food Inc on DVD or Blue Ray! Seeing is sometiomes more powerful then "hearing". It talks about the same type of things as the book. It has a powerful message!

2nd - my Trader Joe's takes coupons. Did you ask them? I know they sell mainly their brand, but they do sell some organic brands that have coupons. They sell Pure Bars their too. You might like them! They are bars, but not processed... raw and uncooked :)

3rd - When you go to Whole Foods, see if your location will stack coupons! Mine will, and that means double the coupon savings usually. You will be like a kid in a candy store if it's your first time. Go WITHOUT the kids if at all possible so you can check everything out. Make sure to get the Whole Deal books!

And, check out Alice's Kitchen Blog:

She has a whole post about CSA and has read the same book. you will probably like her site.

I know there was more, but I'm trying to spit this out fast before I forget!

Susan :)

aladyinred said...

My Trader Joes does take coupons it just takes a little bit more to find them.

Stasi said...

I am a BIG shopper of Trader Joes, LOVE that store. Their laundry detergent is great...everything from them is!!!! My Trader Joes does take coupons.

Sharon said...

Nice job! Eating organic foods might be a tad more expensive that non-organic foods but you will reap the rewards in years to come that will ultimately save you money (healthcare expenses, illnesses, etc).

I read your article and enjoyed it! I figured my article about the different organic food levels would interest you. Here is the link:

Feel free to leave a comment! :)

kalea_kane said...

Good for you. I try to shop as organic as possible. It is a little tougher here. I hate to say it, but we have one organic store and it is small, cramped, and has a limited stock and honestly the produce looks kind of nasty. I use to shop at Whole Foods when I lived in Rhode Island, and I just get a little annoyed when I shop at this tiny store. I wish we had a Whole Foods or Trader Joes near us. Good luck with your new culinary choices! :)

amanda said...

I've learned that it is a toss up. I may spend more on the individual items, but buy a lot less from the center of the store.

See if you can go in on part of a cow. We just did 1/4 of a grass fed, hormone free cow and it came out to about $2.50 a pound.

felix said...

Nice to reading this grocery tips always works out when you in grocery coupon what would be a great use of grocery coupons

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!


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