Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An affordable way to buy Organic

Since I have gone back to get my Master's in Holistic Health and Nutrition Education I have become even more determined to only buy organic foods. I have always grown an organic garden and preserved my extras for winter - but it's not enough. I would buy organic when convienent, but if it wasn't there - I thought fresh fruit was still best. I can't believe I was so naive - the stuff I'm learning about how many pesticides are put on these plants - and how deep it penetrates - you cannot wash it off - scary.

Anyway I have started buying all organic and my grocery bill has really gone up - even with the garden right now. So I had to do a paper for school on where to buy organic in my area - a tool for my professional toolbox that I will use with clients. As I was researching this, I stumbled across CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture). I had heard of CSA's before but for some crazy reason thought they were only out in CA. Well - there are a ton of them right here in my area - and some still have openings for this year.

What you do is buy a share of the harvest and get weekly deliveries. Most of them have several delivery spots around the metro area - some deliver right to your door - and some you have to drive out to the farm to pick up. Some have financial assistance if you can't afford it and some will let you trade some labor for part of the cost. Many of them have activities on the farm that you can come to.

And some of them offer eggs and meat - and I even found one that offers baked goods - including some that are gluten free and casien free.

The costs of the ones I looked into appeared to run right around $500 for a box big enough for 2 adults and 1 small child. The number of weeks they deliver is between 16 and 22 (this is only based on the ones I found). That's like $28 a week.

Anyway - I thought I would share the idea in case there were others out there like me who want to buy organic but wish it were more affordable. Here is a link to a website where you can put in your zip or state and see what's in your area: http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

Even if they are all full in your area for this year - you might want to investigate them and get on a list for next year.

I'm going to put all of the ones for my area in a spreadsheet so my future clients can compare based on what works best for their family.

Hope that helps someone!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

al fresco Natural Sausages

Like many families that don't eat gluten, we avoid most sausages and hot dogs due to the nitrate content. Since we also avoid pork (which I don't think I've mentioned much on this blog) - those factors really eliminate most sausages. For the most part I haven't missed them - they tend to be fatty anyway. But once in awhile as a treat, sausages are tasty. I have fond memories of special breakfasts that included maple syrup and sausages - yum! Spaghetti and other Italian dishes have more flavor when prepared with sausage instead of plain ground meat. And I grew up in Wisconsin - summer isn't summer without brats on the grill!

I have tried a few of the nitrate free sausages and they're Okay - but nothing that I felt like blogging about. And then Bzz Agent invited me to sign up for a new campaign for Al Fresco Natural Sausages. OMG, yummy is the best way to describe them! Almost all of the varities are gluten free - the exception is the fresh Mango Chipolte flavor - the rest are all gluten free. Most are casein (dairy) free as well - they have the full nutrition information on their webpage. My bzz kit included coupons for 2 free products so I picked up two this week and we tried them both and loved them. Andy specifically asked me to write them up on the grocery list for next week!

The sausages are all made with lean, skinless chicken meat, and never contain any artificial ingredients or preservatives. And they have 70% less fat than pork sausages. If you are a pork avoider like my family, you might want to visit the website before choosing which varieties you want to try - some are in pork casings.

The website has a lot of great information including recipes and more information about the company as well as frequently asked questions and nutritional information on each variety. They also have a where to buy feature. I was surprised to find they were available in several stores in my area including Super Target. I can't believe I had never noticed them before.

We tried the Sweet Apple and Sundried Tomato flavors. Both were yum and yet they were very different from each other. The Sweet Apple was sweet and you could taste the maple syrup in it. This would be great with pancakes or waffles for breakfast. The Sundried Tomato was more of an Italian Flavor and would be good with pasta.

The price wasn't too bad either. $3.99 for a 12 ounce package. That may be more than traditional sausages, but for an all natural product with so much flavor, I think it is a great value.

Check out their website today by clicking here. I have to play with the link feature now that I have figured out it is there and how to use it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Some cool new software!

I had to purchase the Food Processor Nutrition and Fitness Softward by Esha Research for my classes I am taking. It is the coolest!

I can put in what I eat on a daily basis - or my child eats - and get a print out of what nutrition we are getting - and then I can play with it and see if I changed one thing or another how that effects it. I can also search for products and find their nutritional breakdown - and they have practically every product ever made in there.

One of the things I'm having the most fun with is entering in my own recipes and finding out the nutrtional content, calories, fat, etc.

This is going to be so valuable to use when I start doing this for a living.

I can actually print out nutrition labels for the homemade jam and jelly that I make to give away now.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The price of GFCF

Eating GFCF certainly is more expensive - I don't think anyone will argue with that.

In the past I have never really kept track of the cost because it was just something we had to do. While I knew you could deduct the price difference of the foods, I also knew that getting enough to actually write off on your taxes was probably not going to happen - you are only able to claim a percentage of your medical and only if you itemize (which we do). But last year between the dentist and specialists we had a lot of medical expenses and could have claimed some of them if we had added the food on, but I hadn't kept track.

So this year I started saving my grocery receipts and tracking the cost in an excel spreadsheet. I missed January - I didn't start until Feb. 1 when I realized how close we were to being able to claim some medical expenses last year.

I am only tracking the foods that we buy that are GFCF. Not the extra cost of the foods that have nothing artificial in them or are organic - that's not legal unless you have to buy them because that is the only choice. I am sure if I tracked that cost as well it would be huge. I am tracking total costs because I believe that doing this diet as a family is beneficial therapy for my son and the reason that he eats so well. If we got audited I think I could get the doctor to sign for that. Dan thinks we should only track the foods that only Andy eats and a third of the ones that we all eat.

In order for the costs to be tax deductable, you do need a medical reason to be buying the more expensive foods. Just doing the diet because others have told you it helps autism isn't enough. You need a signed statement from your doctor.

This morning I updated my spreadsheet and so far this year between Feb. 1 & June 1 - the price difference comes to $328.95! That's a lot of money in 4 months and like I said that doesn't count the organic fruits and veggies.

If you are not keeping a spreadsheet, I suggest you do - the price difference might be more for some of you. I did it fairly - I didn't compare it to generics - I could have put the price of bread as a lot more, but I priced the bread in the store that we would have bought if we were able to buy regular bread and it wasn't the cheapest. I did the same with all products. Some things I would have bought generics, but many I wouldn't have.