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How Real Families on Real Budgets Can Afford Organic

December 27, 2013 •  21 comments.

 •  Blog, News

Written by Robyn O’Brien , AllergyKids Foundation

In a world in which we are constantly worried about the health of our families, the stability of our jobs, paying the mortgage, and all of life’s responsibilities, the simple act of trying to eat healthy often becomes a challenge.

Not to mention that if your family is anything like mine, then you’ve most likely got some picky eaters, limited time and a limited budget with which to pull all of this off in a world of soaring food prices.

So here are a few tips for those who want to start buying organic food but don’t want to pay the high price:

  • Go Orgo-Generic: Major grocery store chains like Safeway and Kroger, and big box food retailers like Costco and even Wal-Mart, now carry their own organic foods. And all foods labeled “USDA organic” are created equal, no matter where you find them. No need to upscale your grocery store when Wal-Mart gets it done.
  • Buy Frozen: Frozen foods (like strawberries and fish) are cheaper than those that are delivered fresh. So if the prices on fresh produce are eye-popping, cruise on over to the frozen food aisle for a discount.
  • Eat with the Season: Retrain your taste buds to think like your grandmother did. She didn’t eat strawberries in the middle of winter. Locally grown foods are usually cheaper than those flown in from another hemisphere so if you eat with the season, you’ll be eating more affordably.
  • Skip the Box, Embrace the Bulk: Food that comes in boxes costs more because of the packaging costs associated with designing those pretty pictures! When you buy in bulk, you’re not paying for all of the packaging, you’re paying for the food which is what you want anyway. So slide on over to that bulk food aisle in Safeway and look for noodles, cereals, rice and beans in your local grocery store.
  • Support the US economy and Buy Local: You can save money by becoming a member of a local farm (just like you became a member at Safeway or Costco!). How do you find a local farm, you ask? Well, thankfully, the USDA now has a list of online sites to help you find the closest farm near you, so click here to log onto the USDA site.
  • Comparison Shop: You wouldn’t buy a car without comparison shopping, so before you even head out the door, you can compare the prices of organic foods at different retailers from the safety of your own computer at www.eatwellguide.org
  • Coupons, coupons, coupons: Organic bargains are everywhere so click on About.com’s Frugal Living page where you will find All Organic Links.
  • Grow One Thing: If you’re as busy as we are, there’s not a chance in creation that you are going to be able to feed your family off of your home-grown harvest, but you will find that growing a tomato plant can be incredibly inspiring. And it’s not as intimidating as it seems. So pick one thing to grow – you can do it (we all grew lima beans in cups as kids, right?).
  • Find a Friend: It is way more fun when you share this adventure with someone else, so be sure to find a friend, share this link and get back to us with your success stories (and if you have a tip that you want to add, please post it in the comment section below!).

Good luck!

Swimming Upstream: Goldfish Makers Ditch Artificial Dyes. Next Up, GMOs?

December 7, 2013 •  3 comments.

 •  Blog, News, Uncategorized

Food dyes have gotten a bad rap in the United States and have been linked to health concerns as far reaching as cancer.  A “Rainbow of Risks” cites one report, putting parents on alert.

But the food industry has been slow to respond. As CBS Market Watch reported, “any clampdown would be fiercely opposed by the major food manufacturers who use a boatload — 15 million pounds — of food dyes in the U.S. every year. ”

Fifteen million pounds of artificial food dyes per year.

It’s hard to hear for parents trying to feed kids on a budget, especially when you consider that our very own American companies have pulled these artificial dyes, derived from petroleum based products, from the kids’ foods that they are serving in other countries.  That double standard just doesn’t sit right for most American parents, and people have been making some noise.

I am one of them.  I first took on the issue back in 2008 on Good Morning America when I was writing my book.  Studies linking these artificial ingredients to hyperactivity led American companies to reformulate their products in the United Kingdom.  Despite this response to consumer demand and parental concern overseas, our own companies did nothing here while the FDA said that more studies are needed.

But since then, despite the fact that the FDA sat still, companies began to take notice.  They are listening and responding to consumer demand, even while the FDA says nothing.  In no way is this more obvious than in an email I received last week from the makers of Goldfish.  I had hammered on their product in my book, The Unhealthy Truth, for being a kid-favorite and absolutely jacked up on these artificial ingredients that can send some kids sky high.  As a mom of four, it had been my go-to snack for years, but upon learning that, I ditched the colors and opted for something else.

So when I emailed them, following up on some research being done on artificial colors, to ask about their recent announcement to ditch these  artificial dyes, I got the following response.

Ms Robyn, we received your message and appreciate the time you took to contact Pepperidge Farm regarding the coloring used in our Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors.

Our Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors use the following natural ingredients for coloring:

  • Red Beet
  • Paprika
  • Watermelon
  • Huito
  • Tumeric
  • Annatto

Huito fruit is a native Latin American exotic fruit much like Acai, Passionfruit or Guava.  Its flavor is reminiscent of an apricot or raisin.

We appreciate your interest in our Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Colors.  Please contact our Consumer Response Center at 1.888.737.7374 if you need further assistance.

If you don’t think these companies are listening, you have not yet tried talking to them.  They are making these changes, but they need us.  They need consumers to share their concerns, to write, call and email so that they can show their shareholders and show their boards of directors that this food awakening is happening.

Together, we can get this junk out of our food the way parents have overseas.  We can clean up our food system and restore the health of our families.

Pepperidge Farm closed their email saying, “Thank you for visiting the Pepperidge Farm website.”

Thanks for listening, Pepperidge Farm.  Next up, let’s figure out a way to help your farmers grow their corn and soy with fewer chemicals, without those genetically engineered ingredients and chemically-intensive operating system that the biotech industry says we need.

Our combined talent, intellect and creativity are so powerful.  And it is our collective talents that will create the changes we want to see in the health of our food system and the health of our country.

Sometimes the first step just might be as tiny as a goldfish.

To ask Pepperidge Farm to remove the chemical industry’s genetically engineered ingredients from our children’s goldfish or to thank them for ditching the artificial dyes, please contact Consumer Response Center at 1.888.737.7374 or send them an email here: http://www.pepperidgefarm.com/ContactUs.aspx 

Follow Robyn on Twitter @unhealthytruth and on Facebook.  She is a former financial analyst and author.