Why I Gave Up Organic Food–and Why It’s Good

The organic food movement is taking hold of hearts, minds, and stores all around us. Practically everywhere we go, organic food is available in produce sections and ready-made packages. So why did I give it up?

Why I Gave Up Organic Food - Stone Family Farmstead

Ok–I probably teased a little there, but the truth is, I did give up organic food, sort of–but not because I wanted to give it up completely.

When we moved last October, we added an extra 10 minutes on to our 20 minute drive to Costco, which was a super fabulous store to pick up all manner of organic foods. Though they were nice about it, I think my friends probably thought I was crazy to give up Costco shopping just because of an extra 10 minute drive. I thought I was crazy, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it anymore.

I figured I would stick closer to home, patronizing whichever grocery stores provided organic foods. We live in a very rural, unincorporated area, so there isn’t much here. Unless you can find an organic farm or farmer’s market in the area, there’s really no wide array of organic produce for sale (and even that can be questionable at a farmer’s market). There are options like Abundant Harvest, which is an awesome choice for organic produce, but if there isn’t a drop off point nearby, it’s very difficult to be a part of that program.

Equally as sad, the closest community to us has almost no organic options available to them. It is not at all a well-to-do community, and unfortunately, the people are not likely to be able to afford the higher cost of organic foods. I completely get it, but it’s really disappointing that low-income areas like the local community to me don’t have many choices for foods not laden with pesticides. Perhaps they wouldn’t anyway, because the organic food that is available is quite high. But perhaps they would.

New Choices

I had a choice. It looked like I could choose to still make quite a trek to get the foods we were so used to eating by heading in a different direction on the map. Yet, I felt a tug on my heart to stay in the area and shop. Why would I do that when it’s so much healthier to eat organic? Isn’t it worth the exchange of time and gas money for our family’s health? Well, I guess part of it is the reluctance I feel about having to go far away to shop for food. We have a lot to do here to take care of our animals, and the heat causes us to have to watch them closely, especially during the summer. I am not really a ‘gallivanting’ kind of gal, so I try to stay close to where I love to be, which is home.

As for the organic offerings available to our community—there aren’t many. I’ve shopped at 4 of the 5 grocery stores that are within 10 minutes of our house, and out of those, only three had anything organic to offer. None of them have all that many choices, either. One has a small produce section, and the other two have almost nothing organic available in theirs, save for perhaps lettuce, carrots, apples and bananas.

Two of the three have organic ground beef available, but no other organic meat. The ground beef choices are around $6/lb for organic and a whopping $9/lb for organic grass fed beef. Most all places have organic milk, but it’s very expensive. As far as other organic options like ketchup, cereal, eggs, and other stuff, those are sometimes available, but being a perimeter shopper, I buy fewer prepackaged foods so I haven’t notice everything available in the middle of the store.

The Things I’m Learning

The more I looked, the less I found. It made me sad, but it also firmed up a few things in my mind:

One, I really need to allow this to light a fire under me and learn to garden with a purpose. Over the past ten years, gardening has been a hobby and not a necessity in my mind. Since we moved to our new home in October, I am seeing that growing our own is going to be more important than ever. This farming thing has to work. This means that I need to study, ask questions like this one, try new things, and basically, pull together a plan that will provide the more expensive produce that we tend to purchase.

Two, I need to support those stores that are carrying organic foods by purchasing what they have to offer. In my mind, I can’t see how our local grocery store will feel compelled to stock more organic choices if we in the community are going 30 minutes away to shop, rather than purchasing what is available at our local stores. In support of the stores that are offering organic food, I am thinking that I would like to continue to purchase what they make available at a reasonable price, which will make it easier to decide what to spend my garden space on each season.

Three, I need to make the effort to patronize local growers, whether they are organically certified or not. Though they are few and far between, there really are local growers around here that use organic practices. I recently met a grower who brings his strawberries and tomatoes in every day from about an hour away to sell them here in our city. He admits that they aren’t organic certified, but they use organic fertilizers in their growing. That’s a step in the right direction, and it feels right to support what he is doing. Maybe it’s not perfect, but the strawberries sure are good and he is making the effort to offer a better product than what I can get in my local grocery store. I want to support that.

In Conclusion

I do feel that eating organic is best for my family. However, I feel that it’s best for everyone’s family, and because of this, and because I can afford to support the local organic community (whatever that is and whatever that means), I feel that I must do that.

At first, this whole thing was about my convenience, but it is turning into something else. It’s turning into a way of thinking that is bigger than myself and my family. It’s turning into something more important than saving some gas money, or my precious time. It’s turning into doing my part, through voting with my dollars, to bring more organic food to the community. It’s just one small way that I can help to make it possible for people in the community to improve their health. I like that.

Do you support your local food community? Do you grow your own? Both?

Shared at Good Morning Mondays, The Art of Homemaking Mondays, Homemade Mondays, Making Your Home Sing Mondays, Hey Momma! Link Party, (Mis)Adventures Monday, Tuesdays with a Twist, Dream. Create. Inspire. Link, Homestead Blog Hop, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Weekend Blog Hop, From the Farm, Front Porch Friday, Awesome Life Friday, Farm Girl Friday, Simple Saturdays, Simply Natural Saturday

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Kristi Stone

Kristi Stone

Honestly? I'm the author of this blog...sometimes. My family and I live in Sunny Southern California on a one acre hobby farm where we are working diligently to one day produce our dairy, eggs, and produce. That takes A LOT of work, so if you don't hear from me as soon as you'd like, give me a shout out in the comments and I'll chat back as soon as I can between the garden, goat kids, chickens, husband, human kids, and playing with my grandboy, Kieran. And in the mean time, if you'd like to see more frequently what goes on at our farm, please feel free to join my Facebook group (see the right column) where I am more active. I'd love to get to know you! πŸ™‚
Kristi Stone

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  1. Bravo! I was intrigued by your title. But I agree with you 100%. I came to you through The Art of Homemaking. Good luck on your journey!

  2. When the family was all home, the 30 minute drive to Costco happened about once a month. Then last year one day while I was there shopping, I looked around and felt pretty disgusted with everything. Eating in bulk I just couldn’t do it anymore. Where we live the majority of the community seems to shop at the local Walmart super store. That really pulled at me, even knowing that the store was providing organic options I just didn’t like the atmosphere. So I made a switch and began shopping at a small local chain called Brookshires. I realized that eating less and a better quality food was what I was after. So the things we don’t grow or raise. do get purchased at the local store. In the last two months my lifestyle and outlook has changed because I don’t want to live like the rest of america. To sum up – yes I support the small stores because not only is there a better quality of food but the people who work at those stores appreciate your business. I love that when I do shop my groceries are carried to my car for me. What a treat! With all the being said, our goal has always been to grow and raise the majority of our own food – trying to find balance is where we are now as the home is almost an empty nest.

    • That’s funny that you mention Walmart–I’m just hoping that the new superstore will *have* organic options so I can narrow my shopping trip to just one store! We don’t have any small chain stores around here–it’s Walmart, Stater Bros, Winco, or one of a few of the hispanic chain stores. They all have something good about them, but I would prefer to just go to one place and support their efforts to provide organic options for the community. I totally get you, though–mom and pop shops are great to support if you have them because their livelihood depends on it, and it’s a great way to help the little guys survive in a “Walmart world”.

  3. Interesting post! I hasdthis same conundrum! #heymomma

  4. What is the atmosphere at Walmart you don’t like? I have to confess the atmosphere at Trader Joe’s, Vons, and certain other stores is something I have a problem with. I am just curious.

    • I don’t have a problem with Walmart, but I don’t think your comment was necessarily directed at me since I didn’t mention Walmart in my post. I definitely feel that atmosphere is very effective in earning my business, and I’m much more inclined to shop at a place with a good atmosphere. It doesn’t always matter if it’s overly positive, but overly negative is a real turn off.

    • On the walmart atmosphere: I don’t like it. It feels depressing to me. I walk in and just feel sad. I don’t know if it’s the lighting or the smell or the cheapness of it all (the quality, not the prices), it’s just bleh.

      If I shop at a big box store like that I prefer either Meijer or Target. They feel more upbeat and more my speed. But I try to limit my trips to those to 1 or 2 times a year for Target, and every other month or less for Meijer (they have the dog food we like so I have to go sometimes, they also carry real sugar ketchup).

      • Hey Tash—Yeah, I do agree that Walmart can feel a bit depressing, but in my experience, only certain ones. The ones that are well-kept are better. Also, I think the use of blue and grey is kind of…bleh. Red, like at Target, is much more comfortable and upbeat, as you said.

        Ha ha, but I sort of feel like EVERY store is depressing if I don’t want to be there! I don’t like shopping very much!

        • I don’t like shopping much either. But I am good at it which is the only way I can keep our food budget so low without eating 100% junk.

          I do love the Amish auction. It’s actually fun to buy stuff. And I can get loads of produce for next to nothing direct from the grower. I got 3 pecks of peaches last week for $18!

  5. Thanks so much for linking up with #heymomma! I love your posts! We shop at our grocery and support them and the companies they carry that are organic because you vote with your dollars! I hope that they see that organic, although more expensive, is what the growing collective wants.

  6. This is naturally, πŸ™‚ the thing to do. from the #heymomma link party

    • It might be, but it’s not always our first inclination, I think! It wasn’t mine, for sure, but I’m glad my focus has changed this way. Thanks for visiting! πŸ™‚

  7. I know organic is ridiculously priced some times. I am grateful for our home garden and we do frequent local farmers markets. I prefer to buy antibiotic meats and hormone free eggs etc. But the price can be a struggle. I’m hopping over from dream create inspire. I would love it if I didn’t have to go three different stores to shop.
    I’m hopping over from dream create inspire. Hugs!

    • Yeah, it can be CRAZY priced, especially the meats. I haven’t yet been able to find much beyond ground beef that is priced to my budget, unless it’s just “natural” chicken (no antibiotics, hormones, etc–just not organic and grass fed). We go ahead and get that, but I’m getting to the place in my mind that I’ll probably be willing to butcher my own chickens in the future! I get you on the not wanting to go to three places to shop–I’m right there with you. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Terry Jarrard says:

    One thing along those lines. Local farmers may not be labeled organic, but may very well BE organic. the label has lots of fees involved. So if I sold the things in my garden, I could not label them organic. everything I grow is organic.

    Great article.
    So many people want cheap and local, but if no one local pays the higher prices, the local places will stop stocking it. if they buy enough, they may stock more, and in turn bring down some of the cost.

    • I agree with you, Terry, which is why I feel it’s equally, if not more important to support these guys rather than the local grocery for the produce they specialize in. Right–cheap and local don’t really always go hand in hand, but we are fortunate when they do. Since we can afford to pay a little more to support organic food in the area, we do, in hopes to bring more and more of it to the area, benefiting the whole community. Thanks for stopping by, I enjoyed reading your thoughts!

    • This is what I was going to say. You can buy organic (or labeled ‘chemical free’ sometimes) much easier, and often for less the what the store has it priced at. Sometimes it’s just less spray (like no herbicides and pesticide only if ‘needed’). I grow chemical free food, I couldn’t claim organic even if I was ok with paying the fees because I sometimes have to start with non organic seed for some varieties. And some things that go in our compost are conventional. But I use organic fertilizer when needed, and no pesticides or herbicides. My chickens are fed scraps (which could be organic, conventional or anything in between) and a non GMO layer feed (certified organic is much pricier), and forage in my chemical free yard. I think it’s better to get eggs from a local person who gives them space and grass and bugs then to get certified organic from a factory bird who might not know what grass is.

      • It sounds like your methods are a lot like ours, Tash, as far as growing. I tend to do what is practical, but do try my best to use organic practices everywhere I can.

        A funny thing—when we moved here, the chickens that already lived here had no idea what grass was, and they looked at food scraps like they were aliens. Not sure, but i think they had only been fed laying mash. They are used to different foods now, thankfully.

        As for getting organic/chemical free for less than at the store—I get my strawberries from a local guy who grows them about an hour away from me who sells his for about the same price as the non-organic at the store. They are fantastic in flavor and very fresh (usually picked the day I buy them). Great price in my opinion because the product is excellent, and much better than any strawberries I can get at the store (including organic).

        • Yeah, there is a you pick blueberry farm about 20 minutes from me. They are $2.90/lb, which works out to $2 a pint. The stores conventionally grown blueberries (shipped from across the country at best) are 2 6oz packages for $5. Or about $6.67 a pint. The local place only sprays for one particular pest-a fruit fly that will decimate a ripening crop in as little as a day and is a plague on all berries. They have sticky traps and check daily for the fly. If found they close down to spray and will tell people that they had to spray. I haven’t seen them spray yet.

          Before we moved to the country we had neither chickens nor compost. I hated throwing away all the food my kids wouldn’t finish. Compost was one of the first things I started, but it still felt like a waste for perfectly good food that had one bite taken out of it. The chickens love that stuff though and then they give me more food! I feel like we aren’t wasting quite so much now even if my kids don’t finish something they take. πŸ˜€

          • I get you–I have always hated wasting food because we were on such a strict budget before. Now that we are not, the feeling has not changed, but like you, I feel much more ok with it since the chickens will benefit, and if they don’t, we’ll use it in the compost. πŸ˜€

  9. Like you we live in a small town, but are blessed to have an Azure Standard pick up close by. That is were the majority of our food comes except for produce. We are learning to live seasonally and get what we can at the local store which really has an alright selection if we aren’t picky. I had to check out this post when I saw the title on Tuesday’s With a Twist party.

    • Hi Joyce! We have an Azure Standard pickup, but it’s about as far away as anything else, so we skip it. They have such great stuff, I wish the drop off was closer!

  10. I love the new look of your blog, Kristi! Thanks for linking up at the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home!


  11. I can soooo feel you there!!! For us, Costco is a 1 1/2 hour each way drive. I make the trek every other month or so, but it’s getting harder and harder to justify. Of course, our local area offers nothing in the way of organic (all Amish and they love their Sevin and Roundup!) so I have had to make the choice to support local anyway because it’ll be the Amish farmers that will help me round out our food supply if that time ever comes πŸ˜‰

    • Yeah, it’s tough to make the choice to support local when the food we prefer isn’t available, isn’t it? Still, the drive–especially yours!–is brutal when you’ve got tons to do every day!

  12. Kristi, I totally agree with a you about the drive and supporting local food when you can. We are fortunate to live withIn 10 minutes of many different grocery store options. I just wish buying organic wasn’t so expensive especially when shopping for a family of 6:). I love that you have a heart to grow most of your food and I hope to continue to do more of that for our family in the future. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts at Dream. Create. Inspire. Hope you are having a fun weekend. Take care, Tara

    • I agree, organic really is expensive, and we can only do what we can to support the community around us. I do have the heart, but having a heart and actually growing most of the food are two different things for sure. It just takes time and effort, and more time! Great success to you, Tara!

  13. I too like to buy as much as possible from the producer, even if they are not certified organic. Congrats on being featured as a blogger on Wildcrafting Wednesday.

  14. I don’t think the title is very good. It’s click bait and slightly inaccurate. You didn’t give up all organic. You gave up spending more gas to buy certified organic produce in order to buy more locally but non certified produce.

    Better title suggestions:
    Choosing local or organic? What to do when both isn’t an option.
    Is certified organic worth the drive? (subtitle: my reasons for giving up organic)
    Why I gave up Costco’s organic abundance.
    Pay for Gas or Grass-fed? Neither. (or just Gas or Grass-fed?)


    • LOL, ok fair enough, Tash! In my defense, at least I did mention that at the beginning at the article so that people could make the decision to read on or not. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the suggestions!

  15. We do both. Recent transplants to this area so learning the garden ways here. So far we have 8 huge raised beds. We did just a few things this year and supplement from the local farmers.

    • We are in the same boat as you are, Victoria. We are newly “transplanted” here too and are learning the microclimate and ecosystem as well. Sounds like you guys are doing great!

    • on Stage2(FUTABA STORY/BERSERK) .. I try to kill Reiko(BERSERK) on practice mode but i always got KO .. I only got KO if i bring Saki .. Do you have a good pair for Riho/Makoto to kill Reiko(BERSERK)?? Because on stage 6 there are many bats O.O .. thanks

  16. I think what you’re doing is awesome and I love your resolve. I’ve been meaning to try to garden more, though I live in an urban setting, and it’s something that I just haven’t gotten around to. Good luck with what you’re doing!

    • Thanks Gina! I’ll tell ya what–gardening isn’t for sissies! I don’t blame you at all for not getting around to it yet, there sure is a learning curve and it takes a while to learn to provide your own food. I’m still trying! It can definitely be done, and when you are ready, you’ll do great, I’m sure! Thanks so much for your well-wishes, and thanks for the visit! πŸ™‚

  17. Woo-hoo for going local – and so often, we’ve found that small, local growers really ARE organic, but just can’t afford to jump through all the hoops to become certified. This is why going local is so great: you get to really KNOW the person your food is coming from, so you can actually learn all about how they really treat it!

    • Absolutely! I’m really learning that, Lisa, and it’s fantastic. I’m so happy to be able to be part of that type of relationship, it just feels good all the way around. πŸ™‚

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