Organic Diet Step 1: Oils and Fats

When making a clean green start in your diet, the most important place to start (in regards to your health) is with the oils/fats you consume.

Clean Starts

  • Change from margerine and conventional butter to organic butter or imported grassfed butter (Kerrygold) (conventional butter was listed recently on a list of top ten most toxic foods, yet organic butter has been consumed liberally by some of the healthiest people groups on the planet)
  • Change from hydrogenated oils (crisco, deep frying, or in prepared baked goods) to organic coconut oil, organic palm oil, organic butter, or organic lard/tallow
  • Change from vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil) to olive, coconut, peanut, and sesame oils for low heat sauteeing, or use walnut, olive, avocado, or flaxseed oils for salad dressings (all organic cold pressed)
  • Supplement Cod Liver Oil and Flax Seed Oil for essential fatty acids, and inflammation reducing Omega 3 oils (buy from a company which tests CLO for purity, and keep oils in the refrigerator and use quickly as they become rancid easily)
  • When thinking of oils and fats, remember that most prepared and processed foods have some type of fat in them. Read labels so that you can avoid toxic fats such as hydrogenated oils and vegetables oils heated to high temperatures. Even at cool temperatures, long shelf lives of some prepared foods mean that good fats have gone rancid before you open the box.

Buying Tips

When buying oils, look for glass containers, as plastic leaches into oils/fats at a much higher rate than even into water based foods. Colored glass is best, as light will cause oils to become rancid as well as heat.

Trader Joes has an excellent price on quality/organic butter, and a good price on organic olive oil. I have found the best price on organic olive oil at the Grocery Outlet, although it can be hit and miss.

Tropical Traditions is an excellent source for organic coconut and palm oils, with the best price being a large order to split with friends. In the the Portland are, the Alberta Co-Op is a good place for this quality and price on coconut oil.

The Why

Bad oils are toxic for the body, as they:

  • contain concentrated amounts of pesticides and other toxic and hormone disrupting chemicals
  • contain improper balances/deficiencies of omega fats (good, inflammation reducing fats)
  • have already been damaged molecularly by high heat (or will be if you cook them)
  • soy, corn, and canola oils lead the pack in tons of pesticides and bleaching agents used in production

In contrast, Good Oils are health promoting, as they:

  • Allow us to absorb the important fat soluable vitamins from our food and the sun (vitamins A, D, E, K)
  • Allow us to absorb the minerals in our foods (mineral deficiency is common, with obesity/cravings an indicator of body need)
  • Give a wonderful sense of satiety and slow carbohydrate/sugar absorption which helps to avoid blood sugar spikes and leaves you fuller on less

In recent years, the vegetable oil lobbys have “framed” butter and other natural saturated fats as unhealthy. Don’t believe the propaganda…it is for their profits, not your health. You can get the real story at the Weston A Price foundation.

Finding Local Organic Food

Local farms across the US, as illustrated on localharvest.com

Having a hard time finding local

produce, dairy, and meat?

Try these sites:

www.localharvest.org

www.realmilk.com

www.eatwellguide.org

www.localdirt.com

www.rodaleinstitute.org/farm_locator

www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/farmersmarkets

Once you find a local farm on one of these sites, visit it, and get to know the owners. Ask about their growing practices to see if you ar comfortable with eating the food. Even if they regularly sell at Farmers Markets, you may be able to negotiate a better deal directly at the farm, especially if you offer to pick up your produce at a time during the week which helps out their harvest production, or if you’re willing to take the “ugly” produce.

AND . . . Keep your eyes pealed as you drive through the rural areas of your county. In my area, there are many people with large gardens/small farms who sell their excess at the roadside for several weeks or months of the year. This is truly how I’ve discovered most of my farms. Most of them don’t advertise on the internet for fear of too much traffic.

In the map above, you can see that farms follow population. If you live in Nebraska, you may have a hard time finding a local farm, and you will have to grow your favorite varieties of vegetables yourself if you want them fresh and organic (ready made greenhouses can extend the growing season for colder climates).

Local food is seasonal. You can’t expect to get raspberries from a farm in January (at least not in the Northwest!), and you might not even be able to get chicken eggs at that time of year.

So freeze the produce you can in season, and when it’s not in season and/or you run low, look for large bags of organic frozen veggies at places like Costco and Grocery Outlet. Trader Joes has small bags of frozen veggies for prices that compete with the bulk prices of the warehouses. This is a great way to find organic spinach, green beans, broccoli, corn, and more year round.

Affording Organic Food

In a comment on another post, a reader stated: “As much as I try to buy organic, it is so expensive and not widely available.”

This is so true, but we can be glad to see organic food becoming more available, and there are ways to save with organic food. My top five recommendations:

  1. Bulk up your diet with veggies; organic or conventional veggies which are low on the pesticide list (see my Consumer Wallet Guides). Veggies, whether cooked or raw/salads, are naturally cheap fillers, and good for you! Buy in season when available (super cheap from local farmers/big gardeners), and frozen when not in season.
  2. Stop buying expensive, unhealthy snacks, deserts, and sodas, and instead choose smaller portion snacks of organic or natural yogurt, nuts, fruit, homemade muffins. When your grocery cart is a quarter full of crackers, chips, cookies, ice cream, and sweet drinks, you can bet about 1/3-1/2 of your grocery budget is going to these items, which aren’t even part of your meals! Choose filtered water with lemon or lime over sweet drinks, and then “treat” yourself occasionally to an Italian Soda made from Mineral Water and a 100% juice from a trusted brand (like Knudsons). Keep deserts for special times, like birthdays, and then make or get something REALLY good from the best ingredients.
  3. With the grocery money freed up by eating more veggies and buying less snacks, deserts, and drinks, invest in better meat and dairy products. Grassfed meats are best, and it is possible to buy a half or quarter beef, lamb, or hog for your freezer directly from a farmer for a great price per pound. If you can’t buy grassfed, look for free range chickens, and organic or natural beef at Trader Joes which has good prices. Always buy seafood wild caught; watch for sales.As far as dairy: always buy rBST free, and try to find grassfed or organic. Many artisan cheeses, some from Europe, are superior even to organic US dairy in that they are grassfed. Again, the Trader Joes prices are amazing for both cheeses and milk/cream/butter/sour cream, etc. One good option, if you have the ability, is to buy good milk/cream and culture your own yogurt/kefir/sour cream. Since we are a big smoothie family, we save about $15 each week because I culture 2 gallons of milk into kefir and yogurt, rather than buying those products ready made.
  4. The best diet for most people is heavy in veggies, meats, fruits, with some dairy and nuts (if you have no allergies to those foods). Grains and legumes can be good additions/fillers if they are properly prepared, however, most Westerners have far too much of these bulking complex carbs in our diets, and our waistlines are proof. However, they can be good fillers if you find you are too hungry without them. If you buy them in bulk (dry) and prepare them from scratch at home they should be super cheap even when organic.
  5. Shop Smart:
  • Buy directly from a farm or grow your own. This is often cheaper, and you’ll know where (and who) your food comes from.
  • Shop at Trader Joes: they often have the best prices around.
  • Compare prices on the internet (research sources), and with Co-Op buying.
  • Check out Grocery Outlet for clearance prices on natural dairy, organic olive oil and some other shelf items, as well as personal care products (always read lables!!). Conventional stores (Safeway and Fred Meyer in my area) often have organic items on clearance in the bins near the back of the store/warehouse door, and clearance stickers on refrigerated items in the cold cases (near to expiration date items should be used immediately or frozen). Pair with a coupon for a great deal (see below).
  • Become acquainted with Couponing Strategy, as shared/taught/blogged in many blogs. My favorite is frugallivingnw.com. The basic idea is to use a coupon on a product which is on sale to get a great deal. Although most of the deals are for conventional products, there are coupons and deals to be had for organic products. Many organic coupons are for items in the snacks/crakers/prepared foods category, so these coupons aren’t the best way to save (just stop buying those expensive foods, as discussed in point 2). But even still, there are valuable coupons to be had, and steal-of-a-deals to be scored. Hint: go to organicvalley.coop to register for dairy coupons, and to seventhgeneration.com to register for household product coupons. Then hang on to your coupons until a great sale comes up, and stock up for a few months. (No, I am not advocating extreme couponing, and neither do the blog sites.)