Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesday Tips: Save Money with "Diluted" Organics

© Carrie Boyko

People tell me every day that they would really like to eat organic foods, but the cost is prohibiting them from doing it. I hear you loud and clear, and that is why I've been trying to include posts which show you ways to save on organics and on ways to live green for less. Right now you are probably wondering what a diluted organic is, so let me define my newly-coined term.

An example will help. My favorite traditional supermarket in our area is Publix, and at Publix they carry a line of store-brand, all-natural and organic foods, called Greenwise. Greenwise meats, for instance, are not USDA Organic, but they are produced without antibiotics and growth hormones. I guess you could say they are sort of meeting us half way. They cannot yet claim that the cows are grass fed on organic land, but at least they aren't feeding them chemicals. It is definitely better than the traditional alternative, and cheaper--a compromise.

Publix doesn't hold the franchise on the idea of diluting the organic concept. Foods that are labeled All Natural are similar in that they too have not added chemicals or synthetic ingredients. Of course, this doesn't guarantee that the product was not grown with the help of pesticides or chemical herbicides, but again, it is a compromise which is cheaper than the organic version and a little better than the traditional version. You decide.

Another variation of diluted food products would be those that say they are "Made with organic ingredients." This means that the volume of organic ingredients is not enough to allow the producer to qualify for organic certification. Most often, however, these products are still a healthier choice than their traditionally produced counterparts.

Of course, with fresh fruits and vegetables, there is no diluted status; it's either organic or it's not. With one exception, though, and that is that often small, local farmers are farming organically, but their produce is not certified organic, because the cost of this certification is prohibitive. In fact, your best outlet for fresh, organic produce may likely be your area farmers' market. You'll have to do some sleuthing to get to know whose produce is really organic, though. Visiting the same market regularly, you can get acquainted with the farmers and answer this question for yourself by reading between the lines when they converse with you about their farming practices. Ask open-ended questions and give them a chance to lay it all on the line.

I should mention that many of Publix's Greenwise products are USDA organic, and are labeled as such. Greenwise is simply a brand name to attract the shoppers like myself, who are seeking healthier choices. Some Greenwise products are organic and others are simply all natural, or as I call them, diluted. I include many Greenwise products on my shopping list because of their price. Volume purchasing by a grocery chain does give them an advantage in pricing, and we, the consumers, get the benefit.

So Tuesday's first tip is simple; check out your local supermarkets to see if they, too, have a healthier store brand product line. Many do, and this will likely save you money. Alternatively, check out the farmers who frequent your local farmers' market, and learn from them which products are organically grown. Good luck in your hunt.

One final note. In my side job, moonlighting for Blake Bakes, I write organic recipes. Today you can visit Blake Bakes to see my latest post, Toni's Favorite Organic Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Hope you have time to check it out. My husband says they're the bomb!

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