Eating Organic On a Budget

6 Apr

So. I’m sure that I’m not the only girl out there who is a full-time student, has a demanding job and the added responsibilities of a domestic-diva. Having said that, I know what it means to feel stretched to the maximum thin. I empathize, truly I do. It’s easier to grab whatever is closest to hand in the grocery store, than it is to carefully select items according to their nutritional value. Sandwiches are easier to prepare and eat on-the-go, than pre-prepared foods thrown together in the midst of a busy schedule. Of course, that goes without even mentioning the next and perhaps biggest issue- cost.

Do I expect everyone to immediately stop making trips to the local grocery store to find something quick and easy to make? Not at all. Do I believe that incorporating organic food into an individual’s diet is a cheap and hassle-free addition to one’s life? Of course not! It’s a fact that organic food comes replete with a heftier price-tag (sad but true). It’s also an unhappy truth that shopping more effectively and eating better are time-consuming efforts, with an often laboriously slow pay-off.

But you know what? It does pay off. Progress might be slow at first but after a while, you’ll see and feel differences in your mind and body that will far outweigh the inconvenience of change. For example, did you know that around 20% of residents in the state of Florida are actively uninsured? According to the Florida Department of Health, over 150 per 100,000 residents in Pinellas County alone died of heart disease in 2010. An additional 160 died from cancer, while there was a recorded rate of nearly 50 deaths related to Diabetes. While I am clearly not a physician, it can be reasonably assumed that many of these illnesses could be related to poor dietary practices. For Diabetes and Heart Disease, the connection is common knowledge. In light of this information, are convenience and cost really worth the potential misery they may cause?

While I cannot speak for everyone, I can assure you that I’ve managed to find myself in a much healthier place than I have been in decades- merely from making changes to the way I consume food. Before making the changes I will list, I had terrible urinary problems, constant fatigue, dramatic tooth decay and poor eyesight. To make matters worse, somewhere between the ages of 25 and 29, I managed to put on almost 50 pounds.

At 178 pounds and pre-diabetic, I decided it was time to speak to my doctor.

I was told that I had the choice between being medicated and sickly for the rest of my life or to completely revolutionize my eating habits. I chose the latter.

The first change I made, was with regards to sugar. I emptied my cabinets of every sweet treat and starchy substance I could find. They were contributing to my blood sugar problem and leaching vitamins from my body. Second, I replaced these dietary fillers with their proper counterparts; organic vegetables and fruit. At first, I was horrified at all the extra effort I would have to put in, added to the seemingly ridiculous overpricing of organic foods. These are daunting obstacles, to be sure. However once I got the hang of it all, I couldn’t imagine eating any other way.

Wherever you live, in whichever city and state, you must have at least one or two farmers’ markets hanging around the fringes of your town. My advice, buy ALL of your perishable produce from one of these. Grocery stores have a bad habit of marking organic items up 100-200% to garner profits. At your typical mom and pop tent or store, you’ll spend pennies by comparison. Just last week, I popped into one of St. Pete’s more popular establishments and spent $10 for items I would normally have spent $40 on in a grocery chain. Keeping you and your family in a constant supply of healthy fruits and vegetables does not have to break the bank.

As most nutritionists will tell you, such produce should be most of what you and your family consume. Items such as eggs, meats and simple carbs, can also be procured at farmers’ markets and the odds of finding good quality, locally grown goods are often higher.

So back to the main point, how did I lose 50 pounds in a year without going broke? Simple. I got crafty. I buy strictly locally grown produce and eggs from farmers’ markets and am selective about the meats and other items I procure from the grocery store. That’s about it. I make salads with fresh vegetables and greens, eat raw avocados and organic eggs in the morning for protein and omega 3’s and consume raw fruits when I have the urge for something sweet.

In this blog, I will post quick and painless recipes that can assist anyone in making healthier food choices. I will also share photos, videos and articles that can help even the nutritional novice to reaffirm their decision to make better life choices. Stick with me kids, I’ll show you what has worked for me and earnestly hope I am able to help others make similar choices.

FIRST CHALLENGE: Get rid of the sugary snacks in your house and avoid that trip to Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts for a sugary pick-me up during your busy day. Instead, brew some green tea or organic coffee in your house and bring it along with you. If you can manage this first step, everything else will be a piece of cake.

SWEET ALTERNATIVE SMOOTHIE (recipe)-

This baby gets me through my worst sugar cravings.

You’ll need:

-A blender

-Fresh (or frozen) strawberries

-Fresh (or frozen) Blueberries (or raspberries)

-One half of a green apple

-2 cups UNSWEETENED almond milk

-1/4 cup raw baby spinach or two leaves of swiss chard

-1/2 a raw carrot

-1-2 brocoli florets

-1 cup of crushed ice

-2 tablespoons (or 3, if you want a sweeter snack) of Stevia in the Raw

Combine bit by bit, however you prefer until completely blended. For flavor and added antioxidants, add a pinch of raw cinnamon. Once blended, enjoy and be content that you’ve just consumed nearly 100% of your daily vitamin intake requirements.

Till next time folks 😀

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8 Responses to “Eating Organic On a Budget”

  1. Dana April 6, 2012 at 5:18 AM #

    This is a great post. Thank you sharing it, and kudos to you for all you are doing to not only live a healthy life but also share your knowledge.

    Our food economy is upside down — unhealthy ingredients subsidized, hence making unhealthy foods more available at a lower cost, while healthier foods — even locally grown ones which should cost less because there’s less transportation involved — cost more. It makes me so sad that it’s easier to find and afford fast food than it is to find and afford healthy foods.

    It makes me even sadder that such a high percentage of our health issues are preventable through good nutrition and exercise.

    • lanae_riviere April 7, 2012 at 3:36 AM #

      I completely agree with you. The FDA seems to garner hefty profits from corporate lobbyists and therefore, all that is made affordable is the cheapest and lowest quality food. I’ve been to a few ‘cow farms’ in California. They’re utterly sickening. I’m not even sure how such cruelty and lack of concern for quality can even be legal. I think if more people like us can show people how easy and affordable making healthy choices can be, perhaps things can finally change for the better.

  2. Jocellyn April 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM #

    Excellent post and congrats on loosing the weight you needed to in order to maintain your health. I think the idea of getting junk food out of your house is the best. I simply don’t buy it (or very rarely do.) I don’t even buy “organic” junk food. If people had to get off their butts to walk or drive and get it, they would definitely think before mindlessly stuffing their faces. You’ve also inspired me to go to the farmers market! I don’t know what I don’t more often. And if the prices are better (and the quality as well) then it’s something I’m really looking forward to!

    Jocellyn

    • lanae_riviere April 7, 2012 at 3:39 AM #

      Thank you and good luck! Farmers’ Markets are where it’s at! Here in St. Pete, they have collective Farmers’ Markets in the downtown area every Saturday morning. All the local growers come out and set up shop for the afternoon. You wouldn’t believe the deals! Maybe your town has something similar?

      • Jocellyn April 7, 2012 at 2:41 PM #

        Yes we do! Right now it’s only once a month, but once summer hits it’ll be weekly. I will definitely make more of an effort to get to it every week. I’m also considering a CSA as well!

  3. Catie April 8, 2012 at 10:50 PM #

    Hello my love! So proud of you for getting this going 🙂
    Question: I do shop at the Daytona FM, but I notice some things are packaged just like a grocery store! Ex. Stickers, orange mesh bags with labels…do some of these “farmers” simply purchase bulk somewhere and then sell it at the Market?

    • lanae_riviere April 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM #

      I think so. I spoke with a distributor (basically, a guy who drives from South Carolina, through Georgia and then Florida, purchasing fruits and veggies from small farmers and selling them to farmers’ markets) and he told me that a lot of ‘farmers’ and their distributors have to compete with international distributors, who also sell to large grocery chains. Sounds like a bad movie huh? Basically, you have the big distributors from Paraguay, Mexico, Belize and etc.- and you also have the distributors bringing fresh produce from local areas and nearby states. Most of the ‘organic’ veggies we are offered in Florida are actually grown in Georgia or Mexico anyway. The best way to make sure that you’re buying organic or at the least, very high quality produce, is to ask where they’re from. Usually, they have that information posted but not all the time. Like this awesome 6 pack of hot house tomatoes I bought the other day (for 75 cents! blam!); They were shrink-wrapped but had no labels. So I asked the proprietor and she told me that she shrink wraps the veggies herself whenever they start to develop small spots or it looks like they’re ripening faster than they’re selling. They were purchased from a local distributor, who bought them from local growers. At first I was worried that I might offend her by asking where she got them but to my surprise, she seemed genuinely pleased to be asked. I’m getting ready to head back up there either today or tomorrow and will take pics for my next post. Miss your face Catie!

      • Catie April 9, 2012 at 10:23 PM #

        Ok, I guess I need to grow some balls and just ask! I don’t want to offend?! Kisses all over yo face my love!!! This summer, I visit….muah-hahahaha!!! I’ll grab the jackster while I’m at it 😀

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