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Organic Options Close To Home

A Greene Westford column reposted.

Market Basket now carries their own brand of organic milk

Market Basket offers organic options at affordable prices. 

I know people were upset to find out that Whole Foods would not be going into the new Cornerstone Square.  I was definitely one of them.  I do shop at Market Basket occasionally, but I would love for another supermarket to come to town. 
I recently looked more closely at what Market Basket offers and their prices.  I found quite a bit of organic and other more natural items at great prices.  Here is what I found:
Pete and Gerry’s Large Organic Eggs – 12 for $3.69
Organic Valley Organic Butter – 1 lb for $4.69
Organic Valley Organic Cream Cheese – $2.49.  This is a great price!  I saw it once on sale for $1.99, plus I had a coupon.  Still waiting to see that deal again!
Stonyfield Organic Yogurt – 32oz for $3.69
Annie’s Mac and Cheese – prices vary depending on exact type.
Clif Kid Organic Z bar – box of 6 for $4.79
Kashi granola bars – box of 6 for $3.00
TLC Crunchy granola bars – box of 12 for $3.00
Market Basket Organic Milk –half gallon for $3.49, available in fat free and 2%.  Although, honestly, this isn’t the low Market Basket price I would expect.  I have gotten other store brand organic milk for $2.99.  But it’s a start.
Amish County Farms Organic Milk – half gallon for $3.19
Heinz Organic Ketchup – 15 oz for $2.99
Pomi Chopped Tomatoes in a Tetra Pak – $1.99 (Good alternative if you are concerned aobut bisphenol-A (BPA) in cans, especially tomatoes because of their acidity)
Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes – 14 oz can for $1.99.  Muir Glen is transistioning to BPA-free cans.
Eden Organic Canned Beans – variety of beans available 15 oz can for $2.50.  These cans have been BPA-free since 1999.
McCormick Organic Spices – prices range from $3.99 to $4.99 depending on the spice
Pacific Organic Broth – 32oz Tetra Pak for $3.49
Vermont Village Organic unsweetened Applesauce – 24 oz for $3.99
Bragg Organic Raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar – 16oz for $3.49
Domino Organic Sugar – 24oz for $2.29         
Bob’s Red Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – 5 lbs for $4.99.  Market Basket is one of the few places I can find Whole Wheat PASTRY flour.  It’s lighter in texture than normal whole wheat flour.
Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate – $2.50 per 3.5 oz bar.  Recently on sale for $1.99.   I have routinely seen these at $3.99 everywhere else.
Spectrum Organic Refined Coconut Oil – 14oz for $7.99
Spectrum Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil – 14oz for $9.99
Olivia’s Organic lettuces – 5oz for $2.99
Nature’s Circle Farm Organic Russet Potatoes – 5lbs bag for $3.99.  Potatoes are one of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ containing high levels of pesticides and should be something you consider buying organic.
Marcal 100% Recycled Paper Towels – 1 roll (137.8 sq ft.) for $0.99
Tom’s Of Maine toothpaste – $4.49
In addition, Market Basket carries Coleman Organic chicken in various cuts, Kashi cereal, Bear Naked Granola, organic coffee and several Bob’s Red Mill products. Their prganic produce section is small, but seems to be growing.


Coconut Oil: It’s Good For More Than You Think

Coconut Oil:  Good For More than you might think

Coconut oil has been getting more popular for it’s natural healing benefits.

When I first heard of Coconut oil, images and smells of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil from years ago popped into my head.  Coconut oil is much different and is being regarded as very beneficial for health in so many ways.
Coconut oil has been described as “the healthiest oil on earth” by some.  Many people believe that coconut oil can help with such health problems as kidney stones, fever, flu, burns, colds, constipation, nausea, rashes, dry skin and dandruff to name a few.

Inside The Body

What makes it so healthy?   It is 92% saturated fat –the bad fat.  However, coconut oil is comprised mainly of medium-chain fatty acids.  Most of the oils we use are long-chain fatty acids which are large (as their name suggests) and are difficult for our bodies to break down.  Thus they are stored as fat.  The difference – medium chain fatty acids are smaller and are more easily digested and burned for energy.  For this reason, it can help with weight loss when used in place of other oils.  Medium chain fatty acids also have a positive effect on cholesterol and help protect the heart. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid that is believed to have antimicrobial properties and aid in dealing with certain bacteria and viruses.

Outside the Body

Moisturizer – Coconut oil makes a great moisturizer.  You can mix it up with other oil or use it straight out of the jar after showering.  It is absorbed quickly by your skin.  Coconut oil is also antimicrobial and a natural germ fighter so it could help with skin irritations.  (Please consult a physician first).  I have been whipping coconut oil and a little vitamin E with my hand mixer and using it as a moisturizer and eye makeup remover!  It is incredible.
Conditioner – Coconut can be used as a deep conditioning treatment for hair and scalp.   Massage into your scalp and leave on for at least 30 minutes, or longer, then wash.  If you are suffering from dandruff, coconut oil could also help.
Lip balm – I use coconut oil as an ingredient in homemade lip balm.  It works great.  Straight coconut oil could be used in a pinch as well.
Remove Glue Residue – Use to remove glue residue from a sticker on a glass container.  Mix equal parts coconut oil with baking soda, let it sit for a minute then scrub.  This works pretty well.
Wrinkle Prevention and Wrinkle Reducer – Rub a little coconut oil on your skin.  It helps to strengthen the connective tissue delaying wrinkles.

Deodorant – Coconut oil on its own can be used as a deodorant.  It is even more effective when mixed with cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), baking soda and essential oils (optional).  Update 8/10/12: I have been using this combination for the past few months with great success!

As with anything, there are some who are not so convinced that coconut oil is a miracle cure all.  It will be interesting to see what new research brings.  I can personally vouch for the benefits to the skin and hair.  It is amazing!  And for the price, it makes a wonderful natural moisturizer.
Coconut oil is widely available at grocery stores.  Market Basket carries Spectrum organic expeller pressed virgin coconut oil in the international foods aisle.  My favorite lately is the coconut oil from Trader Joe’s.  It is $5.99 for a 16 oz jar and it smells like coconuts!  Which I love.  I emailed Trader Joe’s to get a little more info on their organic virgin coconut oil:  Our Coconut Oil is made from sustainably grown coconut palms.  The oil is extracted through cold pressing and only filtered to remove large particles and considered highly unrefined.”  

Have you ever used coconut oil? 


This post has been submitted as part of Frugal Days,Sustainable Ways at Frugally


Ways To Avoid Pesticides in Produce on a Budget

Ways To Avoid Pesticides on a Budget

Conventional produce has pesticides even after washing.  Ideally it would be great if you could buy organic for all of your produce.   However, that’s not always possible – either you can’t afford or can’t find organic produce for everything you eat.  Now, what do you do?  
The Environmental Working Group has created a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides which ranks pesticide contamination for almost 50 popular fruits and vegetables.  The 12 most contaminated foods are called the ‘dirty dozen’.  They include apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported),  sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries(domestic), lettuce, spinach, kale/collards.   There is also the ‘clean 15’ which are the 15 least pesticide ridden.  They include onions,  sweet corn, pineapple, avocados, asparagus, sweet peas (frozen), mango, eggplant, cantaloupe (domestic), kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, mushrooms.  
The obvious answer is to buy organic for the dirty dozen.  If that is not an option, the EWG still says “Eat your fruits and vegetables!  The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”  Aim to reduce your pesticide exposure if you can’t totally eliminate it.  And let’s face it, eliminating it totally is probably going to be pretty tough.
Here are other ways to reduce your pesticide exposure:
  1. Buy from a local farm that is organic or uses other methods of pest control.  With summer approaching, farmers markets will be everywhere!
  2. Don’t buy the dirty dozen as frequently.  Even if you reduce the amount of strawberries you eat by half, that’s half the amount of pesticides.
  3. Exchange one of the dirty dozen for something lower on the list, ideally the clean 15.  For example, choose sweet potatoes over regular or cantaloupe/watermelon for peaches or nectarines.
  4. Try organic frozen varieties of the dirty dozen.  They are often less expensive.  I love this for smoothies.  Plus, it helps to satisfy the craving for that fruit, which means I don’t need to buy it fresh as often.
  5. To reduce residual pesticide, wash your fruits and vegetables well. 
  6. Do some pricing research.  You can find organic produce at pretty good prices if you look around.
  7. Take a look at other areas where you can save money so you can shift some of your budget to organics.
  8. Grow your own!
  9. Take a look at what you eat the most and concentrate on reducing the pesticides on those.  For example, even though carrots are not in the dirty dozen, they are still pretty high on the list and we eat lots of them.  I choose to buy these organic.  Costco used to have them at a fantastic price.  But I haven’t seen them in Nashua for a month!
Here are some specifics I have found:

Celery – I have seen organic for not much more.  You could just leave it out of your recipe, or substitute chopped cabbage, cucumbers or water chestnuts for the crunch and celery seed/salt for the flavor.  If you do buy organic celery and won’t use it all, try freezing it.   I have chopped celery, frozen it and used it in soups with much success.

Apples – Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s regularly have organic apples.  Since they keep so long, I stock up when I can.  Also, remember to buy organic applesauce.   Trader Joe’s has reasonably priced unsweetened organic applesauce that even my sweet tooth daughter loves!
Blueberries (Domestic) – Sounds odd, but try to look for imported blueberries.
Spinach –   For cooked dishes, broccoli is an option which is also high in carotenoids, vitamins A and C and folate.   If you can use frozen, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have organic frozen spinach at a reasonable price.
Kale/Collard Greens– I see organic kale at Hannaford quite regularly for not much more.
Potatoes –Try sweet potatoes.  They are more nutritious too.  I recently bought organic potatoes at Hannaford for the same price as non-organic.  The only difference being that I had to buy them in a 5 lb bag instead of choosing them individually.  Trader Joe’s also has them at a reasonable price.
Grapes (Imported) – I have been buying domestic grapes at Hannaford.  Although from January until about April, they are not available so we don’t buy as many grapes.
Just knowing which ones are high in pesticides will help you make better choices.  I often find myself opting for the lower pesticide fruits and veggies automatically now.  There are still plenty of great options that do not need to be organic. 
As a general rule of thumb, items lower on the pesticide scale tend to be fruits and veggies with thick skins that you do not eat – melons, mangoes, pineapples, grapefruits, kiwi, peas, corn.  Of course then there are cranberries and eggplant that mess that up, but it’s a start!
In case you still can’t remember all this, there is a pocket guide!  As soon as I posted this, the EWG updated their guide for 2011.  This post has been updated for the 2011 EWG guide.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday and Seasonal Celebration Sunday.





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