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The Organic Struggle

I love my family and I want them to eat food that is good for them. It doesn't mean that I will not allow sweet treats, but just that when it comes to regular snacks and meals we'll be reaching for fruits, veggies and low-fat meats.

But how do we balance good choices and organic choices? I have friends at every point on this journey. There was a time when I felt everything needed to be organic and "all natural." I'm not there any more. We can't afford to be. In fact, I grew up on sugar-coated cereal, processed meats, and white pasta - and I could be in much worse shape.

Some of my friends insist on meats without phosphates and nitrate and others who consider fast food for at least one meal a week. Some have milk delivered at a premium while others pick-up their milk at the convenience store. I guarantee both of these families have a box of store bought cookies in their pantry.

A recent trip to the newest "all natural" mega mart made my head spin once again. There's now a mix of "conventional" and "organically grown" produce all at staggering prices. There is a wonderful assortment of store brand choices, but I'm still not sure if it's organic.

I've heard plenty of advice on the topic, but it's hard to decide where to fall. What are the foods that we are not willing to sacrifice on the organic altar? Are there some foods that are too detrimental to allow in our diet? How does taste rate in importance?

There are all questions that each family has to answer for themselves. In the last year or so, there has been much more talk about the importance of eating locally. Part of the significance here is the very legitimate question "What good is it to eat organic if it has traveled thousands of miles before it's on your plate?" That's not only a waste of resources, but the environment takes a hit (think of those semi-trucks) and it's probably not as fresh as you've been led to believe.

So for me, I've gone back to the locally produced milk that now claims their cows have not been treated with horomones. I am growing my own vegetable garden for the second year in a row - only using organic pesticide. I'll be frequenting the farmers market for my other produce.

I go to the closest grocery store and purchase meats, fruits, veggies, grains and dairy that are on sale. Yes, there are weeks that I buy the $.89 bread (it's hard to resist). But generally I'll buy whatever 100% stone-ground whole wheat is on sale. And if the natural beef is on sale, I'll stock up... but usually any ground beef will do.

Brand-loyalty? Not so much. Price loyalty? Absolutely. And if organic fits the budget, count me in. So tell us, how do you balance budget and enjoy some of the wonderful organic and all-natural selections?

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