Find out how I feed my family on a shoestring budget.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Organic or cheap?

I've been having an internal tussle recently. Do I buy as much organic produce as I can for my family, at a greater financial cost, or do I try and save the pennies and buy the cheaper stuff? I spent a full five minutes on Friday picking up the normal brocolli and then putting it back and choosing organic and vice versa. In the end I chose the organic brocolli, it was 76p more than the normal stuff, but as I looked at E smiling at me in the trolley I knew what choice I wanted to make.

E suffers from ezcema and I've just made the decision to upgrade his vests and sleep suits to organic cotton for the next size. This is a pricey decision, but if it helps his skin then it's a no brained. And if I want what he wears to be organic then of course what he eats should be too. The question is will it make a difference?

I used to think organic was a waste of money - pesticides are still used, so it's not really any better. However, far fewer pesticides are used and crucially organic farming practices are different. Organic matter (poo) is an important part of the cycle, soil quality is important as is rotation. Many people have attributed modern industrial farming practices as one of the reasons Somerset flooded so badly in the winter.

Where does this leave my budget? Well, it means food is costing me a bit more. Me and E don't drink milk, eat cheese or eggs, but N and S do and I don't want them to have the hormone filled, super dairy, GMO stuff, both for health, social and political reasons. So I buy organic, but expect them to eat a but less of it.

Eating less veg is not an option though. In fact, I've been eating a large and varied salad everyday for lunch for the last six weeks and upping our veggie in take all round, so our veg spending is significant.

There is a budget busting light on the horizon though, summer is coming and seeds are a sprouting. We are very lucky to have an allotment. We've neglected a bit over the last few years, but this year it's looking good. We've got carrots, radishes, parsnips, leeks, broad beans and beetroot in now. There are redcurrants, blackcurrants, and gooseberries ripening on the bushes. In the garden we've got more radishes, rocket, mixed leaves and strawberries appearing. There are peppers, chillis, beans and courgettes germinating in pots on the window sills. Through all this we've greatly reduced our food miles, given the bees something to pollinate (we've got companion flowers too), and supplemented our organic vegan in take.

In addition I've been making no knead bread and started a sour dough starter. Organic flour is pricey, but cheap compared to organic bread.

Having said all this though I did buy the cheapest pasta and tinned tomatoes in the shop this week. It's all about compromise I guess!

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