Lesson #1 – Organic is Pricey

Mmm... crisp and juicy

Since my husband and I just got back from traveling, we had missed the Saturday pick-up date at the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for our organic veggies.  Knowing that there wasn’t going to be a farmer’s market in the Valley until Thursday, we had a grocery trip in store.  We decided to go grocery shopping first at Sprouts, whose subtitle is “Farmers Market.”  Usually I just go there to pick up raw honey, dairy-free ice cream, or bulk foods, assuming that the fruit and vegetable prices are outrageous, so this would give me a chance to compare prices.

So what did I find?  Unfortunately, a much smaller organic selection than I imagined.  The great majority of fruits and veggies were not organic, and were not labeled as local – which made me question the store’s subtitle, “Farmers Market.”  Some of the organic veggies, like the one bell pepper that was available, were rotting.  On the bright side, I did find:

  • Organic Fuji and Granny Smith apples at $1.29 and $1.49 per pound (comparable to non-organic apple prices).  The Fuji apple was crisper and juicier than the HEB version and probably came the closest to farm-picked taste as I’m going to get in a sub-tropical climate.
  • Organic lettuce – $5.99 for one of those large clear containers.
  • Wild-caught Ahi Tuna Steaks – $9.99/lb.  These were on sale, so I bought them and froze them.  We paid a little over $10 for two steaks, which is less than we usually pay for our farm-raised salmon for one meal.    Although the seafood industry is less regulated than the meat industry (in terms of labels such as “organic” or “hormone-free”), it’s a safer bet to purchase wild-caught seafood than farm-raised, which is more likely to contain hormones and/or antibiotics.

At HEB, the organic food selection varied.  Some of it was pricey – $4.99 for two organic green bell peppers, as opposed to 62 cents for a non-organic bell pepper (I opted for nonorganic, even though bell peppers are one of the veggies that contain heavy pesticide residues).  I also opted for nonorganic radishes, since organic ones were not available, and was disappointed to find that non-organic herbs and fruit were also not available.   The organic milk here, as in Sprouts, was pricey – almost twice as much for the organic version.  I did, however, hit the jackpot on grape tomatoes: organic tomatoes cost $2.99 per package, comparable to non-organic tomatoes.   I’m convinced they were picked riper than the nonorganic versions, as they taste pretty sweet.

So all in all, on my first organic shopping trip, I did not “splurge” on any food.   I do wish I could 1.) afford more organic options without feeling guilty and 2.) have more organic options available.  But I suppose that learning is what this year of organic living is going to be about!

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