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Review Tue Nov 25 2008

Eating Organic on a Dime

As food prices rise, more and more people are moving away from organic products and farmers' markets. But, according to a panel of seasoned organic-food experts at last weekend's Family Farmed Expo, there are ways to save money while still eating fresh, healthy foods.

Among the panelists were Lisa Kivirist, who runs Inn Serendipity, a sustainable, eco-friendly bed & breakfast near Monroe, Wisconsin. She said that she and her husband came to their farmstead 12 years ago with a roll of quarters, a roll of duct tape and a Rodale guide to farming, and they've learned to live richly off of the land around them. Laura Bruzas, founder and editor of the newsletter Healthy Dining Chicago was on hand, as were author and educator Bret Beall, from GOD-DESS lifestyle services, and moderator Irv Cernauskas, from grocery-delivery service Irv & Shelly's Fresh Picks.

Most of the panelists stressed that one of the best ways to eat organic on a dime is to stay organized and make sure to eat the food that you've spent money on. Many people go to the farmers' market over the weekend, then get so busy during the week that they eat convenience foods while their produce goes bad. If you won't eat all of what you bought within a reasonable amount of time, freeze it. Beall's advice is to buy produce at the peak of freshness, so you can preserve it in a way that retains flavor, texture and nutrition. Kivirist says if you're really organized, you can thaw your frozen food in the refrigerator, thus allowing your fridge to run on less energy in the process and avoiding the waste of last-minute thawing in the microwave.

Bruzas said she brings her own measuring cups when she goes to stores with bulk goods. Most of those stores offer a giant scoop, so you end up buying more than you need, often with some of the leftover going to waste. She also brings a calculator to the store so she can decipher the unit pricing on packages; it's not always cheaper to buy the larger package and stores don't benefit from making that clear.

She also suggests BYOB restaurants, and boxed wine for at home.

Kivirist recommended prioritizing organic purchases. It's possible to buy nearly everything organic now. But do you really need organic sprinkles for your holiday cookies, or organic bananas. The Environmental Working Group has a list of the "dirty dozen" conventional produce items.

All the panelists also said to rethink what you consider waste. Kivirist talked about using last year's candy canes to make biscotti, and Bruzas said that an average family of four throws away $600 worth of food every year. Use leftovers at breakfast or lunch, or freeze them before they go bad.

And, finally, a member of the audience pointed out that carrots, greens and dried beans are always inexpensive. If you want to eat organic but have little cash, skip the peppers, fruits and pricey mix-ins. Greens and pasta can make a nice meal.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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Editor: Robyn Nisi, rn@gapersblock.com
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