To the mattresses...errr, the produce section.

   My husband and I have had our fair share of arguments.  Over the years, I have learned to do a better job at picking my battles and he has learned to pay more attention to the battles I pick.  Some make us laugh, "Pouring an old drink out in a parking lot is NOT littering," and some make us cry, "No one listens to me, and no one cares if I'm happy, so what am I doing here?!"  In the process of picking battles, some topics are never brought up to avoid conflict. 

   Whether it's because he is part of two large families (one at the fire station and ours at home) who need to make many grocery trips, or because of the "men are hunters and women are gatherers" theory, my husband does not enjoy going to grocery stores.  In fact, he completely despises them and avoids them at all costs.  This is good news for me because that means I have complete control over something in our household.  As a stay-at-home-mom with memories of jet-setting, expensive restaurants, and luxurious hotels, any small freedom is a welcomed gift.  Rolling in the occasional hair product or my favorite passion-orange-guava juice to the grocery total without question or discussion was lovely.  I was able to satisfy a little part of me that still needs to be bad, without doing anything particularly harmful.  I say "was" because one of my dirty little grocery store habits has been exposed.  Well, I don't know if I should call it dirty, or clean, or...let me explain.

   For whatever reason, he has been stuck going to the store with me lately.  It has been tragically unavoidable for him twice this past month.  The first time, he put on a smile and even got a separate cart.  I did the serious shopping while he took the girls and ran around the store entertaining them.  We were all in the produce section together, but he ran into a friend and was too distracted to notice what I was putting in the cart.  The second time, he was paying attention.

Him- Hey, I forgot to tell you I gave Little Girl the last apple yesterday.  We need red apples.  (heads over to the apples)

Me- Ok, no problem.  (heads over to the other apples)

Him- Where are you going?

Me- To get apples.

Him- But the apples are over here.

Me- Yes, but the organic apples are over here.  (silence)

The ultimate marriage showdown in A Christmas Story.
   Oh. No. Here. We. Go.  I could see the grimace growing subtly and quickly.  Organic.  You would think I had just said, "Oh fudge," in front of our kids after I knocked his leg lamp on the floor and used up all the glue on purpose!  I knew he thought organic was a waste of hard-earned money and silly food industry propaganda.  Until now, he didn't know I had been sneaking it in the house.  Without words, we had gone to the mattresses...errr, the produce section in Tom Thumb- a marital standoff of epic proportions.  We had a miniscule (in length and volume), but substantial (in the roles and boundaries of our relationship), exchange.  I didn't want to hear of any impediment on one of my territories in this family- the food we all put in our bodies.  And he wanted his opinion to really be heard, for once on this topic, instead of brushed aside as I had done before.  I was absolutely guilty of over-looking his opinion on grocery items, be it pride and/or avoidance tactics.  I finally listened to his viewpoint and he subsided (even though he still thought I was full of bull) and we went about our day.  I won that one- for now anyway.  I found the following excerpts online to support my perspective:

   "The word 'organic' refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products...here are some key differences between conventional farming and organic farming:" (source)

Apply chemical fertilizers to promote plant growth.Apply natural fertilizers, such as manure or compost, to feed soil and plants.
Spray insecticides to reduce pests and disease.Use beneficial insects and birds, mating disruption or traps to reduce pests and disease.
Use herbicides to manage weeds.Rotate crops, till, hand weed or mulch to manage weeds.
Give animals antibiotics, growth hormones and medications to prevent disease and spur growth.Give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. Use preventive measures — such as rotational grazing, a balanced diet and clean housing — to help minimize disease.

   "Going organic is good for you and the Earth, but if you can't always afford it -- since organic can cost 50%-100% more -- experts recommend spending most of your organic food dollars on produce and the foods you eat most often. The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., recommends going organic on produce that is most susceptible to pesticide residue, like peaches." (source)

    "Topping the 2011 dirty dozen list is a tree fruit that always makes the list: Apples. (Apples ranked No. 2 in 2009 and No. 4 in 2010.) More than 40 different pesticides have been detected on apples, because fungus and insect threats prompt farmers to spray various chemicals on their orchards. Not surprisingly, pesticide residue is also found in apple juice and apple sauce, making all apple products smart foods to buy organic."
   The "dirty dozen" refers to the latest list of foods with the highest pesticide residue.  The 2011 list (in sequential order) is apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines (imported), grapes (imported), sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce, and kale and collard greens tie for 12th.  We have 9 out of 13 in constant supply at our home.  Well, the peaches and nectarines aren't always in season, but I'll pay extra to get blueberries and strawberries when they aren't in season.  I do buy celery and grapes but they never get eaten.  The list goes on to include fatty meats, milk, coffee, wine, and chocolate.

   Much to my dismay, the top story on the news the very next evening was, "High arsenic levels found in organic foods, baby formula."  Great.  From MSNBC, "Next time you pick up an organic cereal bar or buy infant formula, you might want to read the label closely. High levels of arsenic, a chemical linked to cancer, chronic diseases and developmental effects, have been found in foods that list organic brown rice syrup as a primary ingredient, according to a new study from Dartmouth University." (source)
   Aaaaaand, we're back to square one.  I would love to know, does your family make an effort to buy organic, or not?  What is your reasoning either way? 


  1. We always buy organic apples - as soon as I read the beginning of your conversation, I wanted to go, "NO! Apples have to be organic!" I'm starting to incorporate frozen organic fruits when they're not in season (mostly berries) but they're just not as delicious. And always organic dairy, since the little one is the one consuming most of it anyways.

    1. I agree! My girls don't drink milk very often. They usually only have it in their cereal. But when they do, it has to be organic!

  2. Love your blog! I finally found it - yippee! Is this comment section just for comments or can it be for causing trouble and giving unsolicited advice in the life situations you describe herein? Well, here goes: I have strong opinions about food. (Oh,no, here we go). Here's how I feel about organic: If a person is going to eat meat, eggs, milk, cheese, ANY food that in ANY way comes from ANY animal, that person might as well forget about organic. No amount of any organic thing will do us one bit of good if we're still poisoning our bodies with animal foods. Organic is important but "small potatoes" compared to the "bigger fish" we need to fry. Sorry about the pun - haha! Same is true for packaged/refined foods. A non-organic apple is immeasurably better than say, applesauce. Long-story-short, the only way to help our health and our environment is a whole-foods-plant-based-diet. PS: I'm no expert. I've only discovered this information less than two years ago after living under a rock for 61 years! So no one take my word for it. The info is out there. Everyone needs to do their own research! But everyone needs to hurry! Our lives and our planet depend on us! Just saw the comments about organic dairy. Please don't buy the advertising! Organic dairy is a joke! Please, please, girls open up the books by John Robbins, T.Colin Campbell, Dr. Neal Bernard, Dr John McDougall and others and DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! I'm about to read WHITEWASH, The Disturbing Truth About Cow's Milk by Joseph Keon. Let's dig for the real truth, not the advertising/propaganda put out by the meat, dairy, egg industries.

  3. Ok, - I’ve taken up an offer to do a little research. After my research, I’m concerned about all vegans, especially the ones I love. I’ve learned there is plenty of research that supports either side of the issue. The loving standoff in the produce section was economically based. I don’t want to spend extra money on things I haven’t been convinced have more value. After a loving, respectful conversation, I conceded that she is right – it’s not that much extra and it’s her domain.
    As for the vegan argument, I don’t think you should be hard on yourself for the first 61 years. Especially since no one, in the history of mankind, has lived that long on a vegan diet. Even Mahatma Gandhi couldn’t sustain it after trying for years and finally declared in 1946, “The crores of India today get neither milk nor ghee nor butter, nor even buttermilk. No wonder that mortality figures are on the increase and there is a lack of energy in the people. It appears as if man is really unable to sustain life without either meat and milk and milk products. Anyone who deceives people in this regard or countenances the fraud is an enemy of India.” Who am I to argue with Gandhi? I don’t think you were living under a rock, you were living practically! That’s the problem. No one knows the long term effects of veganism. Yes, it lowers your BP and cholesterol very quickly, but what about 10 years from now? I’ll get to that later.
    During my research, I learned it ain’t easy being a vegan. The diet must be watched very closely and vegans must either closely track their B-12, iron, vitamin D, calcium, and n-3 polyunsaturated fats or make sure they take supplements. Now that may be easy for an adult couple living by themselves, but when getting through a day with a 3yo and 1yo is challenge enough, tracking everyone’s intake of essential nutrients ain’t easy. A vegan, for example, may claim that leafy spinach is a great source of calcium. Well, spinach IS rich in calcium but it also contains oxalic acid which interferes with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Asparagus contains the same oxalates. (source: livestrong.com) There’s a vegan couple in Florida who sit in prison because they killed their 6 month old adhering to a strict vegan diet. They were convicted of child neglect.
    The jury is still out when it comes to a long term vegan diet. I know, I know, my sister’s vegan propaganda machine is probably churning out another CD as we speak. But while we wait on that, visit Drbenkim.com and read some of his articles on veganism. In one titled, “Don’t Let Philosophy Become More Important Than What Works”, Dr. Kim writes, “strict vegan diet is likely to lead to the development of nutritional deficiencies and significant health problems for most people.” He is the second doctor I’ve heard this from. The other is our pediatrician, Dr. Richard Nail. I know vegans are convinced soon after their “conversion” that doctors don’t know what they’re talking about. Well, a doctor knows WAY more about nutrition than any of the parties involved in the argument. The meat producing industry may tell lies to sell a product, but don’t doubt for a second that folks like PETA and others are above telling lies and demonizing everything us horrible animal consumers eat.

  4. I watch Fox News because I believe I can get the “truth” there. I also watch MSNBC to so what the “other side” is thinking. If someone is truly interested in research, watching Earthlings or reading vegan books authored by vegan proponents is not enough. They should also read a book by Greg Westbrook titled “When Hallelujah Becomes – “What Happened” – Crashing on the Vegan Diet”. It’s the story of a man and his family who followed a strict vegan diet for six years. Their health deteriorated to the point one of his daughters becoming an invalid. Soon after they started back on organic meat, all family members health started improving rapidly. He talks about how following the path of what they thought was their lifelong diet almost cost them their lives. And when the light finally came on, the threats started. Kinda like a Muslim denouncing Islam. Veganism is apparently a religion and those who aren’t saved by plants alone are damned to Hell. Scary stuff. Naturalhygienesociety.org/diet3.html#0 also has several articles on the risks of veganism. Also try beyondveg.com. The most compelling site I found was a wonderful blog written by an ex vegan. The site is voraciouseats.com/2010/11/19/a-vegan-no-more/. (Formerly known as voraciousvegan.com.) She writes, “While my original choice to be a vegan stemmed from the always noble impulse to do the right thing and be as compassionate as possible, it was a mistake and a choice I should never have made. If I had done my research and actually asked the hard questions from the beginning instead of letting graphic images of factory farms guide me, I would have saved myself 3 years of misguided efforts as well as the deterioration of my physical and emotional health.” She goes on to describe how veganism actually takes us out of our natural place in the life cycle and leads to HUMAN starvation. She still hates factory farms but describes traditional land based specific farming as the only way to save our planet. Organic matter (animal waste - yes, including blood and bones) feeds the plants AND soil. Without topsoil, nothing will grow. She says we can’t keep having healthy soil if all we use are fossil fuel fertilizers. Of course, in true form, she has been inundated with death threats against her and her family. One thing the leftist vegan community hates is a dissenter.
    Finally, for the vegans I love, I’m happy with what you eat if you’re happy. But please, remember your supplements. :)

  5. I owe you a sincere apology for using this lovely blog to jump on my vegan soap box. That was so wrong of me and I hope you'll accept my apology and forgive me. I promise to cease and desist in all formats (not just the blog) with "the ones I love." I absolutely adore this blog. It is so interesting and fascinating. There's a lot of talent here. I've never followed or even looked at a blog before! Of course, this one has special meaning to me. I'm really surprised I left a comment since I intentionally spend very little time on the computer. I don't even pay attention to my own Face Book! I plan to check Isla Cunningham Books frequently but probably won't comment very often. Just love reading it. And love all those associated with it! Thank you for creating and sharing it!

    1. You absolutely do not owe me an apology!! This is an open forum and I love ALL the comments! You both made some very good points! I guess it's one of those 'agree to disagree' moments? Regardless, you're welcome to comment as often or as seldom as you'd like! Just know we love you very much and you are ALWAYS welcome to post whatever you're thinking or feeling!!

  6. Your attitudes, which shine so brilliantly in this blog, are exactly why you will be so successful in your writing career (or any other endeavor) wherever you choose to display your talents. And those attitudes are one of many reasons I love you and appreciate you so much!

  7. I enjoy reading your blog. I am taking a nutrition course right now and we just recently studied proteins. Proteins contain essential amino acids that our body does not make on its own. Hints the word essential. These amino acids help to make up our DNA and ultimately are involved in growth, maintenance, and repair. Also amino acids play a role in hormones and antibiotics. The most quality sources of amino acids come from animal proteins. Plant proteins contain amino acids but no near the amount of animal proteins. Because plants are not complete, complementary plant protein intake is necessary to be adequate. Ex. Beans and grains. Animal proteins need to be ingested in moderation due to the amount of fat. Effects of animals being injected with hormones and their effects have not been discussed yet. Also, recent research however has shown that soy protein can reduce post menopausal breast cancer chances because it contains the phytochemical genestein but not recommended for prepuberty females.
    Just thought I would throw in my two cents on the vegan conversation...See you soon.

    1. I love everyone's two cents, including yours! I myself am a 'meathead,' but only wish the meat industry wasn't so horrific. Herbivore vs. carnivore- it's an interesting debate! Enjoy your nutrition class and please share anything else you feel relevant!