Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is Finally Here! And This May Be the Last Year to Make it Organic!

February 5th, 2011

Yes, it’s true…that big Superbowl football game is on tomorrow.  But today? It’s another fantabulous, once-a-year event: International Ice Cream for Breakfast Day.

Held the first Saturday in February, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is exactly what it sounds like: a  great excuse for a party! What began as a small gathering in upstate New York is now a worldwide event, but still very much under-the-radar.

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And this year, it’s a rather poignant occasion. With the USDA’s decision last week to allow unrestricted planting of genetically modified alfalfa, the ability of America’s local farmers and USDA organic producers to guarantee GMO-free foods is severely compromised. Why? As surely as the wind blows, seeds and other particles from GE alfalfa will cross-contaminate neighboring farms. Of particular concern is the impact on dairy farmers, who use alfalfa as dairy feed (hence my warning about this being the last organic ice cream for breakfast day).  And as Rodale.com reports, GE alfalfa could “contaminate organic honey supplies, since bees forage in alfalfa and create nectar that in turn becomes honey for human food.”

Why the concern about GMOs?  Where to start? The risks – to autism, allergies, infertility and more – are so well documented that surveys going back five years or more show that most Americans would prefer to avoid GMOs if given the choice. But since GMOs are not labeled in this country, the only sure way to avoid them is to buy organic – one of the main reasons I buy organic, as I’ve blogged here here and here.

Here are a few good primers on the risks of genetically engineered foods:

About GMOs, The Non-GMO Project

Six Reasons to Avoid GMOs, The Non-GMO Project

GMO Dangers, Institute for Responsible Technology

Monsanto’s GMOs and Autism, Wellsphere

Safety of Genetically Modified Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects, National Academies Press, 2004 (Read the section about the potential for increased allergies!)

Scientists Speak: Say No to GMOs

The Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods: Autism Hope and Healing

The Trouble with Monsanto and GMOs: Dr. David Suzuki Spells It Out: Red, Green and Blue

What’s a GMO and Why Should You Care? Allergy Kids, Robyn O’Brien

What can you do? Contribute to the legal fight against this outrageous decision. Let the White House know you don’t appreciate having your kids treated like lab rats in the giant GMO science experiment. And in the meantime, cherish the remaining delicious stock of American made organic dairy, before rushing to buy European treats.

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

Meanwhile, enough of the politics and back to the fun of Ice Cream for Breakfast Day!

Here’s more on the story from the “official” Ice Cream for Breakfast Day website.


Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ruth and a little boy named Joe. Ruth and Joe grew up in the
back of beyond in New York state where it was very very cold. Every winter between New Year’s Eve and
Passover, life in up-state New York got extremely boring, so their parents invented a holiday to brighten
up the dreary days of winter. It was called Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. This was a wonderful holiday for
children and parents alike because to celebrate you had to eat ice cream for breakfast on the first Saturday in
February.

Well, Ruth and Joe grew up and went away to a university. They made many friends and taught them all
about Ice Cream For Breakfast Day. After college Ruth had a roommate named Barry to whom she also told
about this tradition. Many years later, Barry met Itzah C. Kret in Washington, D.C. and converted him into an
Ice Cream For Breakfast Day observer.

Nobody has kept precise track but through word of mouth ICFBD has been celebrated in many homes, states
and countries all over the world. Some people give parties with musical instruments, others simply
celebrate with family members. There is no right or wrong so long as you follow the 3 plus 1 simple Ice
Cream for Breakfast Day Rules

(1) Eat ice cream
(2) for breakfast
(3) on the first Saturday in February

(4) spread the word

The rest is up to you!

As for me, I’m fortunate to be invited to the famous Barry’s party!

Let me know if you spring for Ice Cream for Breakfast Day! (And yes, make it organic!)

Have fun!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2011

Keeping Cool with Ice Cream: How to Save, What to Buy (Part 1)

July 24th, 2010

It’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked. “If  I can’t afford to buy everything organic, what should I buy organic?” My response:  it depends on what you eat most often.

And in summer, when I declare ice cream “the divine right of children,” ice cream becomes a basic food group. (Particularly on days like today, when my car’s therometer hit 106 degrees.)

Boo with Aldens Organic Ice Cream Con

But the $5.69 price tag on a half gallon of organic ice cream can cause the most devoted organic fan to pause. I wondered if I was really spending my money wisely, so I decided to take a closer look at the prices and ingredients of some popular ice cream brands.

My neighbor is a big fan of Edy’s. It’s what she served at a recent Cub Scout picnic (you remember –  the one where the parents covertly drank wine from water bottles). I wondered if I was a fool for shelling out $5.69 for Alden’s organic ice cream, when the kids seemed perfectly happy with the $2.69 per gallon Edy’s (And they do have a really cool spumanti flavor). So I took a closer look at Edy’s ice cream ingredients, and in addition to  the usual milk, cream, and sugar,  here’s what I found:

Ick. Corn syrup’s bad enough, but artificial flavors and trans-fats are on nearly every Mom’s “avoid” list – organic fanatic or not.

And think about it. That’s just what they’re required by law to list. No where will you see that the milk came from cows treated with hormones or the corn from pesticide laden fields – we can just infer that, because it’s not organic.

When I went to Edy’s web site to double check the ingredients list, I found another fun fact: Edy’s (along with Dreyer’s) is owned by Nestle, a company whose products many of us try to avoid.

What’s in the organic ice cream I love? Nothing I can’t pronounce. Just simple, wholesome ingredients that are organic – which means there’s no hormones, no pesticides, and no Genetically Modified Organisms.

And a bonus discovery was learning that instead of being owned by a controversial global conglomerate, Alden’s is family owned. It’s part of the Oregon Ice Cream Company, which has been making ice cream for 80 years.

Now here’s the really good news. When I was at Whole Foods River Road in Bethesda on Friday, Aiden’s was on sale for $5.19 a gallon, until July 27th. So now’s the time to try.

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Alden's organic ice cream on sale at Whole Foods

Of course I’m not a total zealot. My kids buy ice cream from the Good Humor man. And I do buy other brands of ice cream from time to time. But let’s talk about that in my next post, when we’ll look at how organic ice cream stacks up to my childhood favorite, Breyer’s, and cult favorite Ben and Jerry’s.

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Stack em up: Alden's Organic vs. Breyer's All Natural vs. Ben & Jerry's rGBH free ice cream

Meanwhile, stay cool in this heat wave!

– Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Disclosures: I am one of those endangered species of bloggers that actually blogs about things I buy with my own money. No one sent me ice cream. A PR rep didn’t pitch this story.   I’m not consulting for any of these companies. I just love ice cream, love organics, and love blogging about both and thought I’d share with you!

Food Matters: The Response to that Post Article about the National Organic Program

July 12th, 2009

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Nearly two years ago I started OrganicMania because I was going crazy trying to figure out when it made sense to go green and organic.

Once I finally understood the food labeling systems (USDA Organic, Made with Organic Ingredients, Green, Natural, etc), I felt a bit more sane.

But as I blogged here last week, the news that Organic Standards may not be all that they seem has turned my world upside down again. Two years later, and I’m still being driven crazy trying to sort out green and organic claims!

The  Washington Post ‘s coverage of the controversy surrounding the National Organic Program touched off interesting reactions from organics advocates and observers. I was barely digesting that story and the reaction to it when Whole Foods announced they’ve joined the non-GMO project, and Dean Foods announced  a move toward “natural” milk – two developments that will throw yet another wrinkle into the food shopping game.  I don’t typically do news summaries here at OrganicMania, but I think these developments are so significant that they merit a recap.

So this is News? Samuel Fromartz, author of “Organic, Inc,” blogged that “The tension discussed in the [Post] article, between those who have always sought to expand the industry and those who seek a more purist vision…. wasn’t particularly news…As for synthetics in processed food, there will always be two camps on this — and both present risks. If synthetics are taken out ..organic processed foods would fade off the shelves. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, but the organic industry would be a lot smaller. If, on the other hand, too many synthetics are let in, and we start getting more organic junk food with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients, that will spell the end of organics too.”

It’s So Unfair! The Organic Trade Association issued this press release taking issue with the criticisms aired by The Washington Post reporters. I wish I had seen more reaction from organics advocates, but this was the best response I could find after much online searching, so I’ve included the key points below.

o “The federal organic standards have not been ’relaxed.’ Rigorously enforced standards can and do go hand-in-hand with growth… Organic agriculture and products remain the most strictly regulated, as well as the fastest growing, food system in the United States today.”

“Organic agriculture protects the health of people and the environment by reducing the overall exposure to toxic chemicals from synthetic pesticides that can end up in the ground, air, water and food supply, and that are associated with health consequences from asthma to cancer. Extensive pesticide residue testing by the U.S.D.A. has found that conventionally produced fruits and vegetables are, on average, three to more than four times more likely to contain residues than organic produce, eight to eleven times more likely to contain multiple pesticide residues, and contain residues at levels three to ten times higher than corresponding residues in organic samples.”

o “..There is a very specific process that materials must go through before they are permitted for inclusion in organic products. In regards to fatty acids, the USDA regulators followed the recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)… Because the position of the reporters’ sources did not ‘carry the day’ in this public review by no means makes the process illegal, and to characterize it as such is a great disservice to the public.”

Also last week, Whole Foods announced it will begin certifying certain of its  private label 365 brand foods through the Non-GMO Project. I believe this will be the first major non-GMO labeling effort of its kind  – something we should all support. But I predict that Whole Foods’ move will drive more consumers away from organics and toward the new non-GMO label,  since many people buy organics primarily to avoid GMOs.

Perhaps USDA Organic is not the “be all and end all” that its most ardent supporters claim. But it’s one of the best indicators we have of quality food, particularly in the supermarket.  As consumers, we need to continue to push for strong organics standards, meaning no relaxation of the current  USDA Organic standard.  Check out this campaign promoted by Terressentials Organics to solicit consumer support for upholding organic standards.  You  have until August 31st to have your voice heard by the National Organics Program.

My bet is that the continued expansion of organics, the growth in the natural foods and green categories  and the new non-GMO label will continue to make food shopping a challenge – meaning I’ll still be going crazy! (At least it will give me plenty to blog about here at OrganicMania!)

Check out the other wonderful posts in this month’s  Green Moms Carnival, hosted by Alline at A Passion for Green Business.

What do you think? Are you still going crazy trying to sort this all out? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

5 Things You Can Do About Those National Organic Program Rumors Repeated in The Washington Post

July 3rd, 2009

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For some time now, I’ve come across rumors of troubles with the National Organic Program (the body responsible for bestowing the coveted USDA Organic Seal and Certification).   Whether it was comments from disgruntled farmers on message boards and blogs, grumblings from members at my biodynamic CSA, the time a Chilean woman came up to me at Whole Foods and laughed in my face for buying organic grapes before delivering  a lecture on how “organic” food is really grown, or a half-dozen or so similar encounters…well…I’ve wondered. But what was I going to do? Blog about rumors? Some blogs run that way, but I like to have facts on my side. (I’m still a former newspaper reporter, after all!)

Now those rumors have gained more credence with a  Washington Post article which makes the following allegations:

1.  USDA Organic does not mean pesticide-free.

  • According to The Post, “The original law’s mandate for annual pesticide testing was also never implemented — the agency left that optional…  In 2004, Robinson [ the administrator of the USDA Organics Program] issued a directive allowing farmers and certifiers to use pesticides on organic crops if “after a reasonable effort” they could not determine whether the pesticide contained chemicals prohibited by the organics law.”

2. The list of non-organic substances allowed in USDA certified organic foods has increased from 77 to 245 substances since the standard was created in 2002. As The Post says, “The goal was to shrink the list over time, but only one item has been removed so far.”

3. The Post alleges that there are quality differences in organic certifying bodies, with some practicing more stringent certifications protocols than others. One it singles out for particular criticism is Quality Assurance International (QAI).  The organic certifying body’s seal is on organic packaged items, although typically the seals and the country of origin are printed in very small type, so I’ve found that you have to look carefully to find these seals.

4.   USDA Organic may NOT even mean 100% GMO-free. This is particularly troublesome given that avoiding GMOs is one key reason people, particularly parents, pay extra for the organic seal.

So what’s a frustrated shopper to do?  I’ve taken the following steps.  And based on the Post article, I’ll redouble my efforts to do so:

1.  Find a local CSA or farmer’s market that you trust. Local is always better, because fresh-picked food retains more nutrients and because the carbon footprint involved in food transport is smaller. (Disclosure: I recently welcomed  one of the  nation’s leading farmer’s markets, FRESH FARM Markets, as a consulting client).

2.   Avoid imported organic foods from countries with questionable food safety, heavy pollution,  and lax regulations. For me, this means China.  Soybeans are particularly suspect. It can be a challenge to find USDA organic soybeans that are not imported from China.

3. Purchase frozen foods from countries with strong health and safety records. When I’m not buying fresh veggies,  I always look for frozen organic veggies produced in the US. Sometimes I  buy  frozen foods from France, as I blogged here. They may not be organic, but I know they don’t contain GMOs because they’re forbidden by law in the EU.

4.  Think about whether you really want to pay a premium for the USDA organic seal on processed foods. If you’re buying some chips for the kids as a treat, maybe the “natural” label or plain old conventional food will do.

5.  Demand accountability from Washington. The USDA Organic Seal should stand for pure, organic food free of GMOs, chemical pesticides, and synthetic additives.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment and share! I love my tweeters, but please leave a note too!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

My Kind of CE-Yo

April 30th, 2009

Thanks to Stonyfield Farm, I’ll be heading out to my first BlogHER conference this July in Chicago. I’m not sure which I’m more excited about – finally getting the chance to attend the big BlogHER conference, or the sponsorship from Stonyfield.

Stonyfield’s PR firm offered me the sponsorship, which is actually in return for promoting their new yogurt, Oikos, the only organic Greek yogurt on the market. They sent me some product pix to feature here on OrganicMania.

So who’s that guy? Why is his photo posted instead of the product beauty shot?

That, my friends, is Gary Hirshberg, otherwise known as Stonyfield’s CE-Yo. And although I do enjoy Stonyfield Farms yogurts, I really love what Stonyfield stands for. As I blogged just yesterday, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of studying the green and organic market, it’s this: organic does not always mean green and sustainable, and green and sustainable does not always mean organic.

But Stonyfield is an organic company that operates its business sustainably. In fact, Gary Hirshberg was an environmental activist and windmill maker back when he first got involved with biodynamic and organic farming methods. The company started buying carbon offset credits more than 10 years ago, before most people had even heard of global warming. They do great things like donate funds to one of my favorite organizations, The Environmental Working Group, work hard to reduce waste, support and mentor other sustainable businesses, conserve energy, and make sustainable packaging choices.

There’s all kinds of consumers out there. I’m the deep green type. Show me a company that’s making a difference, and I’ll gladly buy their products.

Thanks, Stonyfield!

And now for the next question…how do I get to Chicago? Hmm….anyone have any connections to Amtrak? I have visions of another sponsorship…this one to promote rail travel as having less environmental impact than air travel.

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Organic Food Savings: Are “Two-fers” A Good Deal? And More on those “Late Night” Specials at Whole Foods

July 12th, 2008

We’ve all been there: cruising the store aisles when suddenly, a great sale catches our eyes. Two for $1.50, Regularly $2 each, the sign reads. Sounds like a good deal! But is it?

Well, it’s a good deal if you are a huge fan of the canned organic beans or mustard or cereal or whatever it is that’s on sale. But what if you just want to try a new item, and figure a sale is a good time to try? Buying two may be overkill.

Did you know that many stores’ registers ring up each item at the “two-fer” sale price? So you really don’t need to buy two of the sale items…it’s just a suggestion. That’s what some of OrganicMania’s field research turned up this week as I prowled the store aisles.

The only time when the two-fer or three-fers really mean what they say? On flowers and live plants, you almost always need to buy the two or three items together to get the discounted savings. Or at least that’s what some of my anonymous grocery store sources told OrganicMania!

And those late night sandwich specials at Whole Foods that I blogged about here? If you were following OrganicMania live tweets this week, you already know that Whole Foods starts reducing those prepared food-case sandwiches a bit earlier now. So starting at around 9 p.m., you can pick up sandwiches at $2 off. Then, closer to closing, come the real deals – two for one.

While we’ve been talking about the great berries on sale – organic strawberries as cheap as conventional – unfortunately not all organic berries are great deals right now. Organic local New Jersey blueberries are still quite expensive compared to conventional, as I tweeted here.

And finally, yes rocks are organic, but not something I recommend. See this tweet. All’s well that ends well.

Did you find any good deals this week? Leave a comment and share!

Looking for more Organic Food Savings Tips? Check out OrganicMania’s extensive archive of organic and green savings tips posts here.

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Green and Organic Savings: Summer Delights

May 31st, 2008

Thankfully OrganicMania hit the grocery stores three times this week, because while one trip was a total bust (extreme overspending), the other two trips – without kids in tow – were great for finding bargains. Did you know I go just to take pix and scope out the bargains for OrganicMania? Call me crazy!

On Thursday I visited the Arlington, Virginia, Whole Foods, the first organic grocer I ever frequented, way back in its Fresh Fields days of 1994. It was there that I saw Seth Goldman, now the CEO/TEO of Honest Tea, stocking the shelves with Honest Tea. He was hard to miss – he just didn’t look like your typical supermarket stock boy! DH (then Darling Fiance) and I told him we were sure he would make it big with the organic iced tea. Ten years later and he’s got The Coca Cola Company as a major investor, we’re working together on Bethesda Green, and he’s interviewed here on OrganicMania. Small world!

The Arlington Whole Foods looked like an ode to summer. From the gorgeous organic plants filling the front of the store to the (finally) in-season organic berries, summer’s on its way!

Now’s the time to buy organic berries. Remember, strawberries are in the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen most pesticide-laden produce. But with high prices and low availability most of the year, it can be hard to swallow the normal prices of organic strawberries. Now you can enjoy a box for $4.99. That’s the best price OrganicMania has found at the DC metro My Organic Markets and Whole Foods, and it’s the word on the street too. Anyone find them for a lower price? Organic raspberries can also be had – 2 for $5.00, a great deal, since they’re normally $3.99 each. The California organic red grapes are delicious and just $2.99 a pound, a savings of $2 per pound – also a great deal since conventional imported grapes are also part of the Dirty Dozen.

OneLight(TM) “green” charcoal is on sale now for $3.49, a savings of $1.50 off the regular price. Buy now and stock up for summer! Why green? This charcoal does not require the use of lighter fluid, which emits Volatile Organic Compounds, the third biggest contributor to greenhouse gases.

Who doesn’t love Late July organic crackers? They just taste so light and fresh, plus there are no nasty GMOs with them, as with practically any conventional cracker these days. Now on sale – two boxes for $6.00. Still, for price alone, you can’t beat the 365 brand organic golden round crackers at $1.99 per box. They’re like Ritz crackers, only better. Toddlers love them!

Did you know you can pick up a case of Santa Cruz organic lemonade on sale for $15 per case, a savings of $8.38?

I’ve bemoaned the high price of fresh organic bread before but this Whole Foods sale is pretty good: 2 freshly baked whole wheat baguettes for $4, a savings of 98 cents.

Hmm…charcoal, berries, lemonade, baguettes, crackers? Picnic, anyone? Did you find any good deals this week? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Looking to Save on Organic Food? Ten Tips: The DON’TS!

May 29th, 2008

As we all know, we learn the most from our mistakes. So before I regale you this Friday with more great bargains, let me fess up. I normally keep the weekly grocery bill for a family of four to between $140 to $170, and that’s for mostly organic, fresh local food. This week I gasped when the check-out clerk chirped, “That will be $247.06.”

Why the difference in cost this week? I violated some cardinal “don’ts.” We all know the famous don’t – don’t shop when you’re hungry. But here are some others you may not have thought much about.

1. Don’t Shop When You’re in a Celebratory Mood – Too Happy

If you like to “reward” yourself when things are going well, you may succumb to rewarding yourself with some expensive treats you normally pass by. That was the case with me today. I wish I had simply found a more appropriate way to celebrate my good fortune instead of shelling out extra bucks at the store!

2. Don’t Shop When You’re Feeling Anxious

DH is going out of town for a few nights, so in anticipation, I stocked up on some expensive convenience foods we don’t normally buy, but that I figured would make my job of preparing meals a bit easier. (Yes, DH cooks all the meals!) Did I really need to buy the expensive, refrigerated pasta for $8.48 when a less expensive box of pasta would do the job just fine? To make matters worse, I sprang for pesto as well, at $4.99.

3. Don’t Let Your Kids Influence What You Buy

Big Boy loves to shop with Mama, because he knows I’m “a softie.” Daddy has been saying no to certain organic cereals for months now, but today I finally caved, shelling out $4.69 for a box of “Organic Kid Marketing Clifford Crunch, when I know I can buy “no name brand” organic cereal in large bags or in bulk for a much lower cost.

4. Don’t Violate Rules That Work – ie, Don’t Buy More than One “Treat” per Trip

A few months back, when DH and I realized that our grocery bills were over the top, we decided to pare back on snacks and non-essential foods. Actually, DH decided this a long time ago. He was an advocate of “no processed foods” before anyone had heard of Michael Pollan! Of course, Big Boy likes to take a bag of snack foods to the soccer field to share with the other boys, and I prefer “organic junk food” to hydrogenated oil and GMO junk food, so I normally allow Big Boy to choose one or two items per week. Today we bought six bags and boxes – to the tune of $13.80 instead of the usual $5 or $6. That’s stuff we really don’t need. Plus, I sprang for some organic ice cream (Green & Black’s – yum!) for $4.29.

5. Don’t Buy an Expensive New Item That You Haven’t Researched Ahead of Time

I shelled out $18 on new Natures Gate sun creams that I hadn’t researched. I normally run everything through the Environmental Working Group’s excellent SkinDeep cosmetics safety database, but today, I didn’t. Unfortunately, in very few cases does a brand score consistently well in all product categories – and Natures Gate was no exception. One of the products is ranked as a “high hazard” with a score of 7, whereas the other sun cream is a low moderate hazard of 3. That means wasted time and money for me – I’ll be returning at least one bottle, and perhaps two.

6. Don’t Stock Up on Non-Sale Items

DH asked me to pick up some of that great Whole Catch frozen fish I’ve blogged about here. One or two packages would have been fine – we still have one in the freezer. Did I need to buy four packages? No? If I had purchased only two, I would have saved $15.08.

7. Don’t Buy Bulk Items You Can Order Online More Cheaply

Finding a well rated sunscreen that my kids will use – and even apply themselves – was a challenge. You guessed it- it’s one of the more expensive brands out there. The California Baby SPF30+ Sunblock Stick is a great product, but at $12.99 it’s pricey. Did I need to buy two? No, especially not when you can stock up online at sites like this one for just $10.14, with free shipping on orders over $75. So let’s subtract one tube plus the $2.85 price differential I would have saved if I had ordered online.

8. Don’t Continue “Treats” from One Week to the Next

Last week, as a special treat for the holiday weekend, I purchased bagels and cream cheese, then promptly left the cream cheese at home and let the bagels get moldy. Did I really need to buy more bagels at $3.69? No. We could have put cream cheese on our home made bread and it would have been just as delicious!

9. Don’t Buy More Perishables than Your Fridge or Counters Can Handle

All of those fresh fruit and veggies look so good. There’s a reason I call Whole Foods the Nordstrom of grocery stores! But did I really need watermelon and organic apples and bananas and organic pears and organic raspberries and organic grapes? Not to mention organic carrots, of which we had plenty at home. Perhaps the same assortment but in smaller quantities – I could have easily saved $10 and still brought home a fine assortment of fruit.

10. Don’t Buy Things You Really Don’t Need

It sounds so simple, and yet my receipt shows $8.99 for “The Naked Bird.” I have no idea what this is! I can’t even find it, and a Google search didn’t even turn up a likely match.

And as for that $250 bill? I asked the cashier if most families spent that much on groceries. She smiled knowingly and said, “Yes, that’s typical.” You’d never know it from some of the online discussions I’ve seen about organic food. I think people understate how much they actually spend!

My tally on the “don’ts” – I’m embarassed to fess up, but these ten mistakes added up to $94.05 in excess spending. Subtract that from the $247.06, and my bill should have been $153.01 — right in my normal range.

Happy Shopping!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Green and Organic Savings Friday: Organic Milk, Bread & Tea

May 2nd, 2008

Rising food prices are all over the news these days. I was actually afraid to set foot in the store this week, nervous about just how high prices were going. Yes, I keep thinking about how blessed I am to even have the choice of organic food vs. conventional, but it still doesn’t help when you hit the check-out line.

So let’s go back to basics, and focus on some savings opportunities with organic milk, organic bread, and organic tea.

While I’ve always loved the taste of Honest Tea iced tea, I must confess I was not buying organic tea leaves for hot tea. Until the OrganicMania interview with Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, I considered organic tea “nice to do” but not a necessary organic expenditure. But when I asked Seth how he became so interested in organics, he explained that it was his interest in tea that led him to discover organics. It turns out that tea is one of the most pesticide-laden products out there, and in some countries, really nasty pesticides like atrazine are used on tea plantations. Did it ever occur to you that tea leaves are not rinsed off until they hit the hot water of your tea kettle? (You can read the OrganicMania interview with Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman here).

With some great savings opportunities this week, now’s a good time to make the switch to organic tea. Allegro organic tea is on sale at Whole Foods, 2 packs for $7.00, a significant savings off the regular price of $4.99 a pack. And the Mambo Sprouts coupon book, available at the customer service desk or the check-out registers, includes a coupon for 55 cents off Good Earth organic tea. With the coupon, Good Earth tea is $3.44 at Whole Foods. Good Earth looks like a really sustainable green company – in addition to being organic, the tea bags are unbleached, and the packaging is 100% recyclable with soy based inks. Plus the tea bags are not wrapped in plastic overwrap, as so many tea bags are.

Now that you can relax with a good cuppa tea, what about the kids’ lunch bags? Lots of school kids pack organic milk in their lunch bags. My son drinks regular white milk – not chocolate, not vanilla, not strawberry – but I could never find the money-saving bulk containers of Horizon white milk. Finally, at the Tenleytown, DC, Whole Foods, I found a carton of 18 Horizon organic milk boxes for $13.79 – or 76 cents per package. This is quite a savings over the 3-pack packages which sell for close to $4. More savings on organic milk? Check out this link where you can register for Stonyfield Farm coupons, including fifty cents off a half gallon of organic milk.

As for bread, who can resist home baked bread? I was indulging that weakness with the delicious breads at the Spring Mill Bread Company located in my local MOM’s. Yet with the price of a loaf of fresh baked organic oatmeal bread hitting nearly $5 a loaf, and many loaves well past the $5 mark, I decided it was time to call it quits on this little luxury. Instead, I picked up some basics – organic whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, and white organic flour. For about $1 a loaf, we now have freshly baked organic bread that is even better than the bakery’s bread. And it’s not at all hard to bake. More on that in another post!

Happy shopping! Do you have any great organic or green savings to share? Please leave a comment!

Carnival/Mr. Linky Update – Still working those darn MIS issues to get Mr. Linky working properly. Hopefully we’ll have everything ready to go next Friday to start our own mini-carnival on Green and Organic Savings!

In the meantime, OrganicMania is participating in the Festival of Frugality for the first time.

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

10 Tips for Saving Money on Organic Food: Scott Nash of MOM’s

April 25th, 2008

Yesterday’s discussion about the food crisis aside, in our own homes, many of us are struggling to keep putting organic foods on the table when prices are rising with no end in sight. The New York Times recently reported that a gallon of organic milk is hitting $7 in some parts of the U.S. Yikes!

So what can you do? OrganicMania reached out for advice to Scott Nash, Founder and CEO of My Organic Market (MOM’s), an innovative organic grocer in Maryland and Virginia. Here are Scott’s top ten tips for saving money at the organic grocery store.

1. Look for a price guarantee where you shop. Some organic grocers (like MOM’s) will guarantee the lowest price.

2. Buy in bulk. There are organic grocers (like MOM’s) who will offer 10% case discounts on products like 3 lb. wheels of cheese, nuts, grains, granolas, beans, etc.

3. Substitute less expensive veggies in place of expensive ones. Think broccoli, cauliflower, green peppers, and yellow onions instead of asparagus, red peppers, and sweet onions.

4. Buy what’s in season. Organic strawberries, for example, were $6 per lb. a few weeks ago, but now they’re already down to $4 and will keep dropping.

5. For out of season produce, shop the freezer section.

6. Drink water out of the tap – it’s cheaper and better for the environment. (Editor’s Note: Studies have shown that much of the bottled water out there is not any better than what comes out of your tap, and in some cases, its of inferior quality!)

7. Choose more grains and pasta.

8. Plant a garden.

9. Try to cook fresh meals at home instead of buying prepared foods or previously frozen dishes.

10. Cook your meals on 1 or 2 days per week when you have the time and then eat them throughout the week.

Do you have other organic savings tips? Please leave a comment and share!

And stay tuned, because starting next Friday, OrganicMania kicks off a carnival of green and organic savings. We’ll be using “Mr. Linky” to gather all of your tips. Please think about planning a post for next week. You can copy it into Mr. Linky and leave a link back on your site. I’ll have more details as we get closer to launch.

Let’s all help each other out by sharing ideas!

Happy Shopping!

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008