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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Schizophrenic Shopper

Recently, I have been putting Chephren in a dayhome for a few hours a week just so I could get a few things done.  You know, quality 'me' time: grocery shopping, going to the bank/post office, etc.  HA!  Actually, I have been able to sneak in a few yoga classes here and there as well. 

Anyway, on one of these occasions, I took the opportunity to 'enjoy' some child-free grocery shopping.  Thinking that I was about to enjoy a 'relaxing' shopping experience, you can imagine my surprise when I left the store 45 minutes later with my heart racing and in a puddle of my own sweat.  Upon returning home and unpacking the groceries, I finally determined the reason why...

Here is a pic of a few of the 'pantry goods' that I brought home, see if you can guess what my frustration might be:

Ok, it is probably not that obvious unless you are thinking the way that I am thinking (which is highly unlikely), but about half of the products in my cart were organic or 'natural' and the other half weren't.  You might wonder, how in the heck did I prioritize when to buy organic and when not to... the truth is, I didn't.  In other words, other than the clean fifteen and dirty dozen theory (which I follow as closely as possible), I really don't have a 'system' for buying my groceries. 

Well, I guess that is not entirely true.  I am pretty strict on our meat purchases, which we get entirely from local farms.  If I can't buy it locally than I ensure that I buy it organically.  This one is a no-brainer to me.  Some other items that I insist on buying organically and/or locally include:
  • coffee (fair trade)
  • honey (it is harvested from our land - cool!)
  • eggs
  • things that my son eats a lot of: yogurt, cereal, pasta dinners, raisins
Other than that, I really tend to be hit or miss, some days I buy organically and some days not.  I was all about buying my dairy products organically until I found out from a very good source that we have legislation in Alberta that prevents dairy farmers from giving milk-producing cows any antibiotics or hormones.  This made me feel much better about the dairy situation and has helped me save some dinero on all things cows milk. 

Feedback, comments?  What system (if any) do you guys use?  Am I destined to forever be a 'schizophrenic' shopper?  Help!

Happy February by the way, it couldn't have come soon enough for this hurtin' Albertan!


1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm... this is a very interesting question. I fear I am not terribly organized when it comes to shopping... and trying to make the best choice can get you so totally tied in knots that it might seem easier to starve to death! I actually broke down and wrote out a list today because I keep forgetting certain things. Now, if I can just remember to bring it to the store when I go tomorrow...

    But as I think about it, my thought process seems to go a bit like this:

    1) Which choice is better for me? So this means that organic usually wins when it's an option and not ridiculously expensive. Fresh is better than frozen, unprocessed instead of processed, and all else being equal, I'll take the one without pesticides or BPA. I guess this is where the dirty dozen thing comes in.

    2) Is it local? I try like the dickens to buy from within Colorado, but with many things it's just not an option. So my rule of thumb is that I won't buy anything that had to be flown in, like summer fruit from Chile in February, or fresh seafood (as opposed to frozen) from the coast. But I do occasionally splurge on specialty foods that have to be imported.

    3) Is it packaged in plastic? This is a relatively new one. After taking Beth Terry's ( plastic challenge I've become much more aware of how much plastic packaging surrounds us. Of course, some of this gets covered in rule number one because I try to avoid BPA and other plastic coming in contact with my food, especially liquid food.

    4) Is it otherwise good/bad for the environment? Like... was it grown in a greenhouse so it has a huge carbon footprint? Are there more eco-friendly alternatives, like honey instead of sugar, etc.

    5) Can I afford it? Lord knows I'd love to get cheese from the local CSA dariy, but at nearly 10 times the price of regular cheese... I don't think it's gonna happen.

    6) How badly do I want it? You gotta let yourself be a person.

    As my boyfriend likes to point out, there are no pure "right" answers here. If you choose glass over plastic then you're burning more carbon because it's heavier and took more energy to both transport and produce... If you don't get nutrients through fresh food and rely on vitamins, then there's the processing and footprint of the vitamins to consider, etc. etc. I guess all things are relative.

    Let me know if you come up with an actual system, it couldn't hurt me to try to be a tad bit less haphazard in my approach!