to eat, or not to eat… that’s not really the question

avoiding poison
a seemingly simple task
with no solution

I went grocery shopping today – just me and the wee-er one. It’s the first time I’ve been grocery shopping as the sole grocery decision-maker since I was pregnant a million and a half years ago.

I went in with every intention of buying as much organic, healthy food as possible. Even the junk – I was planning on buying quasi-healthy, organic crap.

But y’all? This mama ain’t made of money. I do not not have gold coins flying from my ears, nor a money tree in my backyard. The wee-er one has stopped producing cash from her ass, and my bank account is forlorn.

I did my very best to buy organically, but then this question arose: Is it better to buy organic baby spinach that’s grown in Salinas Valley (site of the e. coli drama from a while back) or should I buy locally grown (at least almost locally grown in San Antonio), non organic baby spinach? Which is worse? The threat of e. coli or the threat of baked in toxins?

And should I just forgo the grocery store produce altogether and only buy from the local farmer’s market? Even if THAT stuff isn’t organic? Is it better to support sustainability? I know that a lot of the local produce is organic, but it can’t be called that legally because the farmers haven’t forked over the cash for the certification. But even so. Local non-organic strawberries vs. parsed together frozen organic strawberries from Mexico? And how the heck will I be able to wrangle the kids and the hubby and the cash to make it to the farmers market every weekend – rain or shine – to buy fruit and veggies. And what about bananas? Can’t grow those locally.

I was seriously having some kind of existential crisis in the produce department. "Would strawberries even still exist without the advent of pesticides? Would eliminating pesticides make children less allergic to seemingly normal foods? What about the children of the pesticide producers and advertisers and deployers? Pesticides literally put meals on their plates." Round and round I went – the crazy lady on aisle nine.

Then there’s the money issue. If I could, I’d buy as much food as I could from local farmers. Beef, chicken, eggs, veggies, cheese, whatever. But fuck if I can afford to buy a half of a friggin cow, or even a deal called a "cowboy box" or something like that – that’s $45 worth of hamburger and a couple of steaks. It’s hormone free and certified organic and it won’t make my baby girl grow boobs at the age of seven – all good things. But how in the frickin hell am I supposed to afford it?

Same goes with cheese. It’s really hard to find cheese made with antibiotic- and hormone-free milk. Especially when you’re at the local grocery store. When you’re lucky enough to find some, it’s nearly (if not exactly) twice as much money. $5 for 6 things of string cheese vs. $2.50 for like a million of those suckers. And try finding it locally produced…

I guess I can’t have the best of every world – a convenient, affordable grocery store with convenient, affordable food that will not accidentally poison my family. I have a great store close by – really wonderful in the grand scheme of things. It has a huge selection of organics, decent prices on everything else, friendly people working there, etc. But I can’t help feel like I’m the butt of some boardroom joke as I struggle over whether or not to spend $4 for granola bars with five pronounceable ingredients vs. spending $2 for ones with, like, fifty unpronounceable ingredients.

Of course this little whiny post is ridiculously ironic, seeing as how I just agreed to let an exterminator come and spray the eaves of my house with poison so that my family will no longer be dive-bombed by literally hundreds of wasps as we go in and out of the front door.

But you get the gist of what I’m saying, right? How does one afford to buy food with less ingredients, less additives, less chemicals and less poisonous tainty kinds of things? When will grocery stores – regular grocery stores – stock truly locally produced food?

Ah, well, I better shut my confused and hypocritical mouth now. I need to stuff it with M&Ms granola and, uh, Coke organic milk so I’ll have energy for the rest of the day. Right. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Walk past the bowl of halloween candy. Have an organic grape. Sure. You bet.

6 thoughts on “to eat, or not to eat… that’s not really the question

  1. Oh girlfriend, I so feel your pain. I struggle with this all the time. FWIW, I think it’s better to buy at the farmer’s market whenever you can–that way you’re not introducing as many “foreign” (i.e. not from your local environment) substances into your system. I do that whenever possible, then buy organic everything else when it comes to fruits and veggies (well, whatever I can find organic) because I save so much money at the farmer’s market I feel better justifying paying more for the organic at a grocery store. KWIM? But yeah, the wrangling at the market is hard, esp. when they won’t stay in their freaking stroller!!!!
    But yeah, it’s hard to swallow the cost of organic, more “natural” foods. I can’t get my husband to eat anything healthy, so really I’m just shopping for me and the kid, and I’m still breaking bad eating habits, so it’s more like shopping for her and half of me. With another on the way, though, that will soon be two kids, and hopefully more than half of me, and hubby keeps saying he’s going to eat healthier so…yeah, kinda feel the need to get a second job just to pay for the groceries!


  2. While paying an arm and a leg for organic or locally grown produce and organic milk seems difficult now, the over-all cost to your family is going to be reduced. If not in the immediate future, then later when your children are as healthy as they can possibly be because you made the sacrifice to serve them wholesome food. A good book you might enjoy is “What to Eat” by Marion Nestle.


  3. Oh please.
    Organic shmanic.
    Why spend your hard earned money (and your valuable time) on buying “organic” food when all you do is poop it out in the end…..just like non-organic food! Show me the studies (and not by some fringe, tree-hugging, humans-are-killing-our-planet wacko group) that says eating “organic” food is soooo much better for you than eating normal food. I survive on Chey-Bor-Ar-Dee, Pasta Roni, and Doritos (non-baked!!) and I am fit as a fiddle. And since I don’t spend all my time driving to farmer’s markets looking for fresh “organic” foods, I have more time to spend eating the crap I love!


  4. I am you, mama. Every single day with this struggle.
    Except on top of the cost and scarcity of “buy raw, organic, local, hormone-free, non-GMO, free-range”…there’s also the struggle with the impossible amount of TIME it takes to prepare food from raw ingredients rather than cheat with prepared/packaged stuff.
    Unfortunately it’s more time- and labor-intensive to farm in these ways, and the demand for healthy foods hasn’t yet met supply, so the prices are still way out of whack. They will be until our asinine farm subsidy system is overhauled.
    If you ever come across that magical mythical grocery store, do let me know.


  5. I agree with Allison. Go local as much as possible. This means you get the freshest, healthiest food and your meals are never the same as they will change with the seasons.
    As for the person who can cheetos all day long and not worry…go to, that’s just one resource on linking preservatives and bad body mojo. Why aren’t there studies being done telling you that organic, local IS better for you? Politics baby, politics.
    Just a thought. Good for you Haikumama for thinking about you and your family’s health and the world we live in!


  6. I’ve been meaning to comment, but I was either stuck in stunned confusion at the health food store, or selling my possessions to afford the health food store, or struggling to healthily cook the health food.
    As for Token Conservative up there… well, you sound *exactly* like my step dad, until he dropped dead at 52.


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