Do Not Fear the Apple

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Last night I bought conventional gala apples at WalMart.  Yes, I’m sure they’re covered in pesticides.  No, I do not care.  Well, not enough, anyway.  

I do care about my food.  I care enough to buy a share in our local CSA program and coordinate our local Azure drop.   I care enough to spend a little more to buy frozen organic berries throughout the year and grow peppers in our garden.  I care enough to drive 30 miles round trip, when time allows, for fresh milk and eggs, and we budget to fill our freezer with locally-raised beef.  Pesticide-laden apples don’t really fit in our food plan.

I’m cranky that a lot of the fresh food at the store is covered in invisible nastiness.  I’m cranky that it’s easier to buy organic cookies than organic fruit, and that an apple costs more than a candy bar.  I’m cranky that some of our favorite fruits and veggies are consistently on the dreaded Dirty Dozen.

But also?  I’m thankful that I can buy tasty fresh fruit for my family pretty much whenever I want.  I’m thankful for at least a little variety in our produce year round.  I’m thankful that it’s apples my children are digging for in the refrigerator!  It’s not a perfect world we live in, friends, so let’s do what we’ve gotta do.

Azure’s apple season is over and it will be months before I can get a 20 pound box of organics for $23 again.  Our neighbor’s tree may or may not produce this year due to the wonky spring weather we’ve had.  That doesn’t stop my children from wanting apples every day, and really?  There are worse things to want.

It’s a quest, this real food thing.  Anyone striving to clean up their diet will tell you it takes some sacrifice.    By all means, search out quality sources of food.  Buy organic from the Dirty Dozen when you can.  Support local farmers who use clean farming practices.  Make room in the budget where possible.  Be a frequent flyer at the Farmer’s Market.  Eat seasonally and locally.  Make an extra stop at the health food store.  Can and freeze summer produce to last through the winter.

But when it’s all too much?  When the 99 cent strawberries are making you drool?  When apples are out of season but conventionals are still being shipped to your local grocer?

Do not fear the apple.  Buying organic and local is not the end all.  Working your whole life and budget and time and energy around only the highest of in-season, quality, “safe” food is not going to earn you a gold star.

If you want the apple, buy the apple.  Eat it.  Enjoy it.  It’s an apple.

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I remember my friend Carrie once asking, “Which is better:  organic oreos or conventional strawberries?”  What say you, friends?  Do you fear the (conventional) apple?  Do you reduce your produce consumption when it’s not organic?  Should we eat more organic cookies and fewer fruits and veggies?  (Well that’s just silly…)  What are you willing to sacrifice?  What won’t you sacrifice?  Do you give it a second thought?

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This week’s shopping:

WalMart, $46.76 ~ 4 1/2 dozen eggs (I reeaaaly need to get out to the farm!), flour, cocoa powder, sugar, brown sugar, pizza sauce raisins, picante, corn tortillas, peppermint tea, apples, milk, strawberries, bananas

Dillons, $23.69 ~ (This was my first couponing trip in months.  Saved 60% and “bought” 4 FREE boxes of baby wipes.  Woot!)  ~ 2 boxes Cascadian Farms cereal ($1.00 each), 4 boxes Philly Cream Cheese (50 cents each), 4 Kraft mozzarella cheese ($1.50 each), ham and turkey ($1.27 each), tortilla chips ($1.00), reduced organic salad ($1.79), reduced mushrooms ($1.79), 2 turkey bacon ($1.50 each), Annie’s Mac&Cheese (30 cents)

April Grocery Total:  $434.21

May Grocery Total:  $456.82

June Groceries so far:  $215.13

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Comments

  1. HEAR, HEAR!!! Thank you for some common sense and a reality check – I’m totally with you!

  2. Oh Amy, I’m so glad to hear you say this! It’s so hard to find organic items in this area, so I have to buy regular stuff! I do search out a lot of our food and go to great lengths to purchase organic. But, the searching and the wondering can be stressful. We do have to eat, so I try not to feel guilty for the things I can’t buy organic. My garden isn’t doing too great this year, so that’s another bummer! Azure doesn’t deliver in this area, but hopefully one day they will. We have to do what we can with what we have, and trust God to take care of the things we have no control over! Thanks for sharing! Blessings from Bama!

    • I think there’s a “movement” going on that will make better food more accessible to all of us in the future, but for now we do what we gotta do!

  3. Completely agree – I would rather my kids eat regular fruits and vegetables than junk food! We all survived growing up on non-organic produce, I am sure they will be just fine! I pick and choose my battles, and that is just not one of them.

  4. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I have a group of friends who cringe at the thought of giving their children a conventional apple. While I prefer an organic apple to a conventional apple. I prefer any apple to a cookie or chips. So when my daughter made the choice to bring a conventional apple to school with her this morning over some easy to grab processed/packaged food, I was pleased by her choice.

  5. Best post you’ve ever written. :-)

  6. Thank you so much for this post. I garden,try to buy locally, and cook from scratch as much as possible. However, I don’t always have access to or often can’t afford to buy everything organic. Thanks for letting people know it’s alright to eat conventional produce. I usually wash as thoroughly as I can and say a little prayer that it will be alright. :)

  7. Yep. All of this. I am BEYOND excited when I’m able to find (and afford) organic produce for my family– I am not uneducated. But you know what? Watching them gorge themselves on conventional fruit? STILL makes me feel pretty good.

    • “I am not uneducated.” Right! Do what we can with what we know, keep learning, and know that the right or “wrong” food isn’t the end all.

  8. Great post! It is so easy to get so caught up in making sure we feed our families all the right things that food becomes more of a source of stress than a source of sustenance and enjoyment! Gonna go make the kids a quesadilla out of my store-bought white wheat tortillas! (No, it’s not a regular occurrence, and yes, we’re gonna enjoy them!)

    • Tortillas. We LOVE them, but I really dislike making them. It’s regular store-bought tortillas for us, too.

  9. I so identify with the internal debate described in this post. So much guilt and second-guessing is possible, and yet as my husband reminds me, it’s more about eating ‘in faith’ than eating all organic. . . .

  10. Thanks for the common sense reminder. Sometimes it feels like we moms are doomed to “fail” at feeding our kids. I’m so pleased to see my son eating fruit with gusto that I try not to think about the fact that the peaches, strawberries and blueberries he’s eating are on the dirty dozen list and I bought them on clearance at the local discount food mart. In a perfect world, I’d grow everything, but that just isn’t going to happen in our tiny city backyard.

    • Yes! I hate that doomed feeling. I do think we need to prioritize healthy eating, but no sense killing ourselves with the stress of it all!

  11. Good post and very practical! Just because something is organic, does not mean it’s pesticide free.

  12. Well done! Love this post!

    It reminds me of when we were struggling to get my 18 month old to eat much of anything. One day he asked for a slice of the fresh homemade bread I was slicing in the middle of the afternoon. I first tried to tell him to wait until supper. Then I slapped my forehead and said, “He’s asking for bread… not a cookie or other sugar. What am I waiting for??”

  13. I love it when you get all “common sense-y”. :)

    The only thing that I make an effort to buy organic/natural is meat, especially chicken. The difference in the store brand regular boneless, skinless chicken breast and the store brand organic chicken breast is astounding. The size, the taste, the texture – everything. It’s at least $2.00 more a pound, but I don’t eat too much meat (it’s just me after all!), so that’s something I’m willing to shell out for.

    But I cannot bring myself to pay $5+ for organic strawberries when the regular ones are 3 for $5.

    • Ooo, I like that. Pick the one thing that’s most important to you and focus on that. (The chicken I get from the farm is WAY different than store chicken, too! Crazy!)

  14. I totally agree with you! I try to buy organic as well but sometimes it just cannot happen for one reason or another. But, I look at it this way, we are so blessed in this country to just be able to feed our families. I am sure there is a starving family somewhere that would love to be able to supply their hungry child with a conventional apple grown with pesticide! That works with all the things people are so crazy about, HFCS, GMO, artifical coloring! I remember a lady speaking from Africa saying that we worry so much about how our food is grown and they worry IF their food will grow! It is all about perspective!

  15. I loved this post!! I love to buy organic, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. We leave a veggie wash sprayer on the counter, and everyone knows to use it, and how to use it!! Like you, I’m proud that my teenage boy (who towers over me) will choose fruit over junk food, maybe not every time, but most times. That’s all I can ask. It is so easy to stress over food/nutrition. Thanks for the reminder to relax!

    • Great idea to keep the veggie wash front and center on the counter! Keeping things handy is a good way to encourage everyone to fresh food.

  16. Seriously you got 20 pounds of organic apples for $20!?!?!!? I live in Washington for pete’s sake and haven’t gotten less than $2.89 a pound! Super jealous! and I just don’t get the food industry prices. Do other states grow apples? I thought they all came from my neck of the woods.

    • Yes! 20 pounds for $23 from Azure. They’re based out of Oregon. Surely they have routes in Washington!

      My neighbor has an apple tree and I’ve seen a few others around here, but Kansas certainly isn’t known for apple orchards. ;)

      • We live in PA and we get some local apples here but mostly from New York. This past year was a bad year for apples on the east coast so conventional apples instead of being .72 or .99 a lb, we were paying $1.15 or $1.30 a pound. But for some reason our local Sam’s Club had organic red delicious apples for $1.15 a lb. It was only that variety and the price did go up as the season went on, but I would buy conventional for my husband and I and give the kids the organic ones. Usually I can’t afford organic apples as they are usually twice or more the cost of conventional.

    • We grow a lot of apples in Michigan, too.

    • Amanda Yoder says:

      Wow I can’t even get conventional in season for prices as good as Azure organic apples in VA, wish they came here! On the overall article, I guess it’s very true. I still have a hard time knowing I’m eating all those pesticides and sometimes pass on eating anything if its conventional :-( maybe I’m wrong for that, still working to convince myself!

      • You’re not wrong for that at all, Amanda! It’s *good* to be concerned about what’s in and on our food. It’s *good* to strive for the best for our family. I think what’s counterproductive is to not enjoy our food or to stress about it so much that it takes up too much mental space in our otherwise very full lives. (But gosh, if we could just not need pesticides…)

  17. I feel pretty much the same way. At my Bi-Lo, I’m thankful that I can get organic Galas for maybe 50 cents more a pound that regular ones. But shelling out money for organic berries and all produce is just not in my budget all the time. I think buying a lot of produce, even if it’s conventional, has got to be better than spending my money on chips and cookies – whether those are organic/natural/whatever.

    • ” I think buying a lot of produce, even if it’s conventional, has got to be better than spending my money on chips and cookies ” That’s my theory!

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