As promised here is a recap about my trip with Stonyfield to beautiful Vermont! I have been to New York City in the Fall but out in the country on the east coast is a whole different story. SO unreal. Stonyfield took us on a tour of two of the dairy farms they not only get supply from, but actively support and mentor and I loved it more than I can say! They’re also giving a way a month supply of their yogurt on my Instagram @smallfryblog so don’t miss that! Here is the crew we went with, along with the biggest babes from Stonyfield (Kristina and Mairead) -linking to their recaps too, if you want to hear more! Erika / Claire (her photos!) / me / Sonja / Bev / Julie / GabbyWe had sunshine and fog and rain and it was magic. I learned so much on this trip and it’s weighed heavy on my mind because I knew I had to change some things at my own house. And, I want everyone to somehow absorb what I saw firsthand, too! It challenged a lot of what I thought I knew about farming in general and rethinking some of my notions about Organic.I am going to go backwards with this post. I am starting with my answer and then I’ll give you the reasons that brought me to this conclusion. I know we’re all busy here and I am hoping that my plan might help some of you and maybe we can even do it together?
We’d like to buy ALL Organic, but the price can hurt. Our finances don’t allow additions right now. Maybe you feel the same way? But, I also can’t deny the benefits to my family, the animals, the farmers, and of the Earth. And the only way to drive these prices down is to increase demand. So, what to do? I am starting by switching one food each month. This month, happily, I switched to organic milk. And to cover that cost we’re eliminating one drive-thru meal each month and doing a pantry meal in it’s place. Meaning, I have to get creative and use only what I have in the fridge and pantry! No additions to the budget, just a little rearranging! A “Pantry meal” is a skill I want to get better at anyway and now I have the perfect reason to start! (On the tour they showed us all the different species of plants in the pasture and how the cows pick and choose them based on their needs. So cool!)
Then for December I am picking again off the “Dirty Dozen” list (the top 12 most pesticide-infested foods -list is below!) and switching one a month for 2018. And depending on how much of a price difference I’ll update you with how we’re making the swaps happen! My goal is not to spend any more money than I already am! Just to make these smart swaps.
Want to join me? I would love to have a way to talk with other parents doing this, where you’re making your own swaps, good deals you’ve found. Having support would be amazing and I am open to suggestions!(A pic of the cheese plate at one of the many amazing meals they fed us!)
Okay now for what I learned in Vermont!
- ANIMAL TREATMENT. Interestingly, I have bought organic eggs for several years. Brown or bust, I don’t even think twice about it. And that is because I saw a documentary on conventional chicken farms. The more I know about how things work the easier it has been for me to make the switch. I saw this weekend how organic farmers treat their cows and the humane, happy lives they lead. Each farmer we visited said once switching from conventional to organic farming practices their vet bills nearly disappeared. These cows just don’t get sick. And in turn they don’t need antibiotics. They graze and are pastured the majority of their day and aren’t fed foods that don’t suit their dietary needs.
- WHAT AM I EVEN GETTING ANYWAY? One thing I really respected about something the founder of Stonyfield – Gary Hirshberg (his episode of How I Built This is amazing!!)- said at our closing night dinner, was that he felt that the Certified Organic Industry had let the consumer down in some ways because some (myself included) had this inherent distrust with Organic. Feeling like we don’t know what we’re paying for, or that the Farmers could somehow pick and choose what standards they stick to. FALSE. It made me wonder who is behind the rumors in the first place, but Organic Farming has the same basic standards across the board. You can read up on the Certified Organic standards here. But in summary with produce, the organic standard prohibits the use of toxic persistent pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, GMOs, sewage sludge as fertilizer (WOOF!), or irradiation. A produce farmer must also have an organic system plan in place that details how they are going to build soil fertility, avoid pests, rotate crops, etc. A farmer couldn’t just decide to do only one of those things and sell their produce as organic – they need to demonstrate how they are compliant with all aspects of the standard.
- GOING GREEN. My vegan friends all say the same thing. If we all stopped eating animal products we would basically save our Earth and solve all our many ecological problems. I believe them, but also I don’t see that happening. Just the logistics of enforcing such a thing. I would wager people will always eat animal products and so what can we do but make the best of our situation? This element of the weekend was by far the coolest and honestly gave me chills. I find it to be earth changing and when my friends have asked about it they laugh at me because it sounds silly, but I AM SERIOUS!
A survey taken of 700+ farms from 48 states shows that organic farms have 44% higher Humic acid levels than conventional farms. Humic acids retains water better and absorbs carbon. ABSORBS CARBON. If all our farms (2 million of them) could increase carbon absorption what could that do for our greenhouse gas issue? They call it Carbon Sequestration and it’s a huge deal. Huge. Another amazing benefit to supporting these practices!
And a few more perks to pepper in like organic produce is higher in antioxidants (cited here!), organic milk is higher in Omega 3s (which we need) and lower in Omega 6’s (which we are getting too much of) -Source. Organic crops have less pesticide residue which means less cadmium (a toxic metal we ingest when we eat conventional produce.) –Source. And while we have no proof GMOs hurt us, the problem with GMOs lies in the purpose they were created — to stay viable after being sprayed with various pesticides, herbicides, and weed killers. The trouble is with evolution that these pests and weeds evolve to withstand the sprays, needing different, heavier options. We simply do not know the long-lasting effects of these chemicals. And they last in groundwater up to 100 years.
So, today, after all that this is my plan! Switch one food each month, making these small changes might take longer than a cold-turkey switch but this is doable for my family.
Here are the “Dirty Dozen” I’ll be switching from first!
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)