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Organic, Grass-fed, Pasture-fed...
Old 06-23-2010, 12:33 PM   #1
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Organic, Grass-fed, Pasture-fed...

After reading some things and watching documentaries like Food Inc and Future of Food, I have started getting more and more naturally grown/raised foods.

I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to buy organic seasonal vegetables/fruit ($22/wk), get organic eggs from free range pasture fed chickens (corn-free soy-free feed in addition to pasture) from a local coop ($6/dozen). I have also been buying organic grass fed beef and pasture fed (with organic feed) pork which are both quite expensive. (I am ordering 1/2 pig in October to cut cost. I thought of getting a 1/4 cow but I wouldn't know what to do with all the roasts that come with the share- I only like steaks and grounds but more steaks) I get pasture-fed organic chickens (about $18 for a 4lb bird - this one does use soy feed. The price of organic pasture chickens with no soy/corn feed is phenomenal). When I guy fish, I buy wild fish.

I think the good pork tastes vastly different from the regular kind. (I never liked pork as an adult since the pork smelled kind of nasty to me, but the good pork tastes just like the pork I ate as a child and I really like it.) Pork/chicken/beef - all of them are drier than the regular kind but I think they all have more flavor.

Has anybody been converting over to more natural food? How are you doing? What's your expense looking like? I had to modify my buget to do this (cutting the entertainment/hobbie budget and other non-food budgets and eating out less). I am eating more cheaper cuts of meat and probably less amount than before. I guess I could eat more eggs and ground beef (both of which are relatively inexpensive compared to the rest of the stuff.) I wish I had a big backyard. I would raise chickens myself...(maybe.)
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Old 06-23-2010, 12:52 PM   #2
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Applause....I've been doing it for many years for both health and sustainability reasons. I have a really good local health food store. Their produce is no more expensive than the regular stuff and always looks much better. I haven't yet found a good meat source. It's always high.

I just got back from Missouri. Stayed at a few farms. Cattle eating for free off all the grass. Once they reach a certain age they are sent off for fattening (corn feeding, steroids, and antibiotics) at some mega ranch. I'm certainly no farmer, but I have to wonder why they wouldn't continue to feed with all the free grass, especially since we would pay a premium for the grass fed label.

Food costs are never an issue to me. I don't eat out and save so much money it's just not a problem.
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:11 PM   #3
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Yes, we have slowly moved to eating more natural/organic foods. Five years ago, it was almost impossible to find organic food in my area of the deep south (I had to drive about 2 hours to the big cities) but, in the past couple of years, some Whole Foods-like stores have opened and we now have some decent choices.

Money-wise, I know that our grocery costs have sky-rocketed. We spent about $5,500 in 2005 shopping 50% Walmart / 50% regular grocery store. At the time, we already avoided a lot of processed foods, but few things were all natural or even organic. Nowadays, we shop more at stores like "Whole Foods", less at the normal supermarket and rarely at Walmart. The vast majority of what we buy is natural or organic food (really, the only unnatural thing we still buy is soda, but drinking soda is my vice). In the past 12 months, we have spent over $9,000 on groceries.

Do I see a difference in the quality of food we eat? Yes, absolutely. Especially when it comes to meats and vegetables. To mitigate the increase in costs, I try to reduce meat servings and portion sizes and I simplify recipes (no need to add a lot of flavoring when the ingredients themselves are yummy).
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:27 PM   #4
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Another choice is venison and other wild meat sources. We try to support the local farmers but I've been backsliding while in school and pretty much dependent on what DH can cook (not much) and what comes out of a can/box for eats.
Hope to return to our expensive grass-fed ways now that I've got time on my hands again to shop and prepare good food.
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Old 06-23-2010, 01:50 PM   #5
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Another option is keeping chickens. It is legal in many cities, and becoming quite a movement. We know a couple who have two hens in their backyard in a city neighborhood. They get all the fresh eggs they need, and no worries about salmonella, so many recipes that call for only slightly cooked eggs are back on the menu.

The surprising thing is how right the hens look in their beautifully landscaped garden.
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Old 06-23-2010, 02:03 PM   #6
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What about bison? I read on a package of bison dogs that its against the law to feed them antibiotics. I want to try the bison dogs/brats etc, but they are $$.
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Old 06-23-2010, 02:28 PM   #7
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Where I live there are a number of farmers who raise bison; the meat is excellent and low fat.
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Old 06-23-2010, 02:46 PM   #8
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In Oregon a veterinarian founded an range fed, organic, beef ranching co-op. Bergerville, a small chain that specializes in quality fast food uses them as their sole supplier of beef. I haven't been watching them closely but I understand that the co-op has grown substantially and that they now have their own slaughter operation.

I patronize Bergerville, I must admit, not for their sandwiches but for their fresh fruit milkshakes.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:01 PM   #9
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I've been eating that way for years but I mostly eat my veggies out of my own organic garden. I find it ironic that feeding our food animals their natural diet & giving them a happy life while they have it results in much healthier nutrition for us as well as for them. Easier on us and the planet.
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Old 06-23-2010, 03:02 PM   #10
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I have yet to have anyone explain to me why organic is anything other than a scam, unless it's a cult.

I'm all for animal welfare, free-range, locally-produced, fewer food miles, and not too much salt or processed food. But when you look at what the organic folks believe, it has so far failed to stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Here's an example. In the UK, you can buy all kinds of vegetables out of season, which are grown - organically, as in no artificial fertiliser and all the rest - in Egypt or Kenya. Of course, while organic is meant to be saving the planet(*), all those air-freighting miles don't do much for the overall carbon footprint. So a compromise has been reached. These green beans and baby corn cobs can be sold as organic, if their producers are also part of the "fair trade" movement. Highly laudable, of course, but let's not pretend that this is anything other than politics.

I don't have very strong views on GMO, fair trade, etc. But I do care about science and the truth, and organic ain't it, unless someone has better evidence than these guys who did a systematic review of the literature and concluded that organic has no measurable health or nutritional benefits.





(*) Quite how an agriculltural system is meant to save the planet when its principal fertiliser is abattoir waste, thus forcing it to depend on the meat industry whose calorific inefficiency is legendary, has not yet been vouchsafed unto me.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:05 PM   #11
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BNick,

I hear what you are saying. I see organic fruit/veggies from all over the world in stores. I see organic *heirloom* tomatoes in stores that have almost no color (they were probably picked while they were still green so they could transport them. What's the nutritional value in that??) I see some frozen veggies from China at Whole Foods and think about the documentaries I watched on PBS - one about the unregulation of pollution in China - about polluted rivers in China (from unregulated factories) that are making the local sick with a very high cancer rate. (They use the water for irrigation for crops amongst other thing) . I see organic eggs at supermarkets and wonder if the hens were stuck in an over-crowded warehouse with no windows and no sunlight (like the ones I saw on Food Inc.) eating organic feed in the dark pooping all over the floor. I think about the organic farmers with all these GMO seeds flying over into their farms. What about the soil? Water ? Seeds can be organic but if you were using the same plot of soil over and over for the same crop, what's the mineral/vit content of the crop?

I remember my uncle in Japan who worked in an agricultural fertilizer industy telling me whether I knew that some pesticides used in the US were several times the legal limit set in Japan. (He said it was probably due to the longer transportation time that made it necessary.)

Anyway, I wonder about a lot of things, but my bottom line is I want to eat food that is tasty and that I feel is good for me.

I am lucky; it is not very difficult to go local here where I live (where different seasonal fruit and veggies grow pretty much all year around.) If it is considered environmentally friendly to eat this way, that's great.

Traditionally raised meats don't have the smell that I detect in industry raised meats. Off the vine fruit/veggies (especially fruit and tomatoes) actually have a lot more flavor IMO. (I grow my own tomatoes and I don't buy them in stores because they have no taste whether organic or conventionally grown and I believe that's the reason tomatoes is the #1 home grown veggy in spring/summer among home growers.)
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:13 PM   #12
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I'm a former farmer and have a science degree. See my signature line.
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Old 06-23-2010, 07:44 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by kumquat View Post
I'm a former farmer and have a science degree. See my signature line.
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Very good!

I will give tmm99 some credit though, on his (apparently) carefully worded sentence (emphasis mine):

Quote:
I want to eat food that is tasty and that I feel is good for me.
For some people, 'feeling' it is good for you does not require any science or proof or reasoning. The 'feeling' is enough. Which doesn't make it wrong, I think there is probably some merit to it. But before I'll spend extra $ for it, or promote some vague label such as 'organic' , I personally want to have some reasonable assurance it is really doing what is claimed. I've just seen too many things that sound good on the surface that are actually a negative when you peel back the layers of the onion (one of the vegetables on the 'no reason to buy organic' list).

-ERD50
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:00 PM   #14
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ERD,

Not to say what you said about what I said is wrong (whaaat??), but here is my take on the whole food business:

Laughter, feeling joy, happiness, having zest for life; things like that probably affect your heath more than the food we eat (as long as you eat what people consider as food and you don't starve to death). And that's not a scientific statement either, but that's how I feel.
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:06 PM   #15
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The last episode of Penn and Teller's Bullsh*t on Showtime has an interesting look at the topic of fast food.
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:28 PM   #16
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For some people, 'feeling' it is good for you does not require any science or proof or reasoning. The 'feeling' is enough. Which doesn't make it wrong, I think there is probably some merit to it. But before I'll spend extra $ for it, or promote some vague label such as 'organic' , I personally want to have some reasonable assurance it is really doing what is claimed. I've just seen too many things that sound good on the surface that are actually a negative when you peel back the layers of the onion (one of the vegetables on the 'no reason to buy organic' list).

-ERD50
No problem there. A lot of people would question some places I spend my money. If it feels good to you, do it.
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Old 06-24-2010, 05:46 AM   #17
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I have yet to have anyone explain to me why organic is anything other than a scam, unless it's a cult.
...
I don't have very strong views on GMO, fair trade, etc. But I do care about science and the truth, and organic ain't it, unless someone has better evidence than these guys who did a systematic review of the literature and concluded that organic has no measurable health or nutritional benefits.
Actually I've never heard anyone claim that organic food is more nutritional. I've always felt that the main benefit of organic food is that you're not eating pesticides, growth hormones and other chemicals along with your food. Check out the article linked to from this other thread. Also, it's not dumping those fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals into the ecosystem.

The article you link to states:
The current report focuses only on direct comparisons of health effects of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. This review specifically did not set out to assess the health impact of potential food contaminants (such as herbicide, pesticide and fungicide residues) of organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, or the environmental or environmental health impacts of organic and conventional agricultural practices.
You're right to question the value of eating organic food flown in from Egypt (or wherever). It's always good to eat locally grown food - cuts down on the environmental costs of shipping the food as you stated. And it's always a good idea to support local businesses and to stimulate your local economy!
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Old 06-24-2010, 08:46 AM   #18
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no worries about salmonella
I've concluded that the chances of salmonella in a raw egg is extremely low, even with mass-produced eggs. I've seen quotes of 1 chance in 25,000, but more importantly, if an egg is not cracked, appears OK, and the whites look normal, the chances are even lower.

I use raw eggs in the homemade mayo that I make. I make it myself to avoid the sugar in the store brands.
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Old 06-24-2010, 08:47 AM   #19
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Actually I've never heard anyone claim that organic food is more nutritional. ...
I thought I've heard lots of people claim it was more nutritious, but that's just me. No wait - it's not just me:

http://aede.osu.edu/resources/docs/p...JMEKVM6E64.pdf

Quote:
Consumers were asked to indicate their primary motive for purchasing organic foods, and to rank these by importance (Table 4). Nutrition was the primary motive; with 51 percent ranking nutrition as the most important reason for purchasing organic foods.
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It's always good to eat locally grown food - cuts down on the environmental costs of shipping the food as you stated.
One should be careful with 'always' and 'never'!

We discussed this a while back, and there's some strong evidence that getting your food locally could often increase the environmental costs of obtaining that food. Here's a link to a summary I did at the time, after samclem provided some data on the efficiencies of bulk shipping:

How the Cap and Trade Works in Practice

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And it's always a good idea to support local businesses and to stimulate your local economy!
I'm not so certain. Maybe it's best to support those who do the best, most efficient job of producing what I want/need (including shipping costs)? I guess we could have greenhouses here in N IL to grow oranges, but I bet it's more efficient and better for the environment to ship them from Florida. And yes, I WANT oranges if I can get them at a good price, thank you.

-ERD50
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Old 06-24-2010, 08:53 AM   #20
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I use raw eggs in the homemade mayo that I make. I make it myself to avoid the sugar in the store brands.
I always thought that making mayo would be difficult, so I didn't try it until last year. Wow. What a revelation! Easy and yum!
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