Thursday, December 27, 2012

My 12 Month Organic Journey

One year ago I made the new year's resolution to switch to an organic way of life. I had already begun making my own green cleaning supplies in 2006 as a reaction to my son's bleach and chemical sensitivities. My daughter was born in 2010 and presented with the same sensitivities on a grander scale. So I decided to go beyond cleaning supplies and herbal remedies and change the way we ate altogether. Here is an overview of that first year transition.


The first thing I noticed was the price of organic food in the local Savemart. The only organic food there was Kashi cereal, bell peppers, granola snacks, and tomatoes. The bell peppers were $3.49 each pepper. The non-organic was $0.99 each. The organic produce was frequently spoiled and the produce that wasn't spoiled had sold out. I was very nervous about this decision.


I found an organic produce section in the same grocery store. There was tofu, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and the usual granola cereals and snacks. The dairy case still didn't have organic eggs but there was organic milk by the gallon in one brand only for $6.05 compared to the non-organic 2 gallons for $5.


There were organic eggs by the dozen for a dollar more than the non-organic. They were brown eggs so I felt special. The milk was now only $1 more per gallon but it was always sold out. It was available in whole and non-fat only. I signed up for WIC and found that the only organic produce covered by the program vouchers was frozen organic vegetables and beans. These items were not available in my store. I hadn't had fast food since December. It was getting difficult to stick to only organic because of a lack of options. I purchased a Costco membership and found an organic haven. There were 2 gallons of organic milk for less than non-organic. There were onions, bell peppers, ketchup, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, cheeses, yogurt, snacks, coffee, 2 dozen pack of eggs, chicken breasts, whole chickens and cotton clothing.


I found interesting biological side effects. The children and I made the full crossover but my husband did not as he spent most of his time at my in-laws homes. The children and I found that our bodies had undergone a...purge. You know what happens after you eat McDonald's? We went through that. We began to sweat more than before. I lost 10 pounds without exercising. My skin began to glow. I actually thought I was pregnant for a moment. I had more energy and needed half as much coffee. Our taste buds changed. My children did not like the taste of most non-organic foods any more. My son said to me, "This chicken doesn't taste like a chicken. It a salty meat." My friend thought she had over-seasoned the chicken but the fact was that my son could taste the salt water injection. My daughter would break out in a rash and get very cranky if we ate a non-organic meal. Fast food was murder on our stomachs. Just the smell of Carl's Jr. made us ill. The children gained weight as they were under a doctor's care, but I lost weight because of my loss of appetite. I was more aware of when I was full. The only beauty treatment I needed was Noxema and lotion. My skin was radiant.

My husband on the other hand had an allergy cold that hit like the flu. It lasted 3 weeks. He and I both have sever nasal allergies. He was completely incapacitated by this cold. I didn't even have a sniffle on a high pollen day. I noticed that all of my in-laws and my husband had been sick four times since January with each illness lasting at least two weeks. They use hand sanitizer religiously. I am staunchly against it. He gained eight pounds.


We were no longer able to eat out, not even at a Chili's or a Denny's. The smell would make us sick and the food didn't taste right. These were once our favorite places. My Costco membership was wonderful I found organic seasonings, flour and sugar to be a great new addition. Salads, juices, and soft drinks were also organic now. Whatever produce that was in season was now available in organic. As a result, we ate more fruits and vegetables. We used less sugar and seasonings. Although I had WIC, I never used it. Nothing was covered and the items that were covered were not available. I eliminated sugar cereal and within two weeks my son's focus and school had improved by 100%, no exaggeration there. The local Savemart was now carrying a steady flow of organic milk in all sizes and percentages of milk fat. There was now "natural" peanut butter by Jiff and Skippy but it looked highly suspicious. There were a number of other non-perishable foods that were organic but I'd say less than 20% of the store was organic. There were now organic bananas for $1 more than the non-organic.


I suffer from Cyclothymia and found mood swings an difficult thing to control. However, lately, they had stabilized. It was so noticeable, that I brought it up with a therapist. I was afraid that I was in some sort of calm before the storm. I hadn't recognized this mood shift. Blood was drawn at a doctor visit and we found that although my lifestyle is still sedentary, my blood sugar was still low but my hypoglycemia was gone. My anemia was also gone as was my daughter's. My doctor had never seen me so healthy. I was no longer wearing make-up. and my hair was thicker and longer. People suspected I was using prenatal vitamins but I wasn't. I had planted an organic garden to help curb the costs of organic produce. It was a lot more work than I had anticipated but I was able to grow bell peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, basil and other herbs with ease. This coupled with the organic groceries I bought encouraged me to cook fresh meals daily. I still had not been sick this year yet. My husband had come down with a stomach virus he caught from his sister.

Not only were my children and I never sick, but we never caught anything either. My daughter's twin cousins and come to a language class with runny noses and stomach viruses. My daughter, although she shared food with them, never got sick. We also, slept better and were better focused throughout the day. It felt wrong to sleep late at this stage.


All of our produce, dairy, and condiments were now organic. All of our drinks were organic. This was very expensive but I made adjustments to accommodate this new lifestyle. I complained to the Savemart manager and stopped shopping there for awhile to help emphasize my unhappiness. The produce department was now 25% organic. Only the produce that wasn't in season was overpriced. I learned that the bananas took longer to ripen and they were sweeter. I lost another five pounds and my sex drive had begun to increase. This was probably due to my consistently balanced mood. The 100+ temperatures did not bother me anymore. I simply drank more water.

My husband caught on to the health benefits of our way of eating. He noticed that when he spent a weekend with his parents, he would feel so ill that it was a waste of time visiting in the first place. It turns out, that non-organic food was making him sick as it did for me and the children just months before. He decided to stay with the organic food.

Our children had developed great palettes. My son could identify what he was eating by the taste of it. Both children were perfectly manageable. My daughter rarely threw a tantrum. I began to have trouble with my vision. I went in for an optometry visit and found that I no longer needed glasses. When I listened to my IPod, I actually had to turn the volume down now. I have an eidetic memory. It seemed to improve now that my diet was strictly organic. My reflexes improved and my hair continued to grow. I felt motivated to be physically active. I wanted to take walks and pick flowers now. Before, I just didn't have the energy to leave the house.


The cost of organic food had finally begun to cripple us. I had no choice but to go back to non-organic. We used our WIC vouchers and bought organic whenever possible. What a headache that was. We regularly had to bring out the manual to show the clerks that the vegetables and beans were allowed to be organic. It was like advertising to the world that we were poor. My mood began to falter slightly but I still felt normal. I gained two pounds and began to crave junk food. Once a week, I bought candy and chips so that whenever the urge struck me I could partake without guilt. I began to have mild breakouts and suddenly athlete's foot was a problem for me. I had my first allergy attack. However, the organic coffee I still had in the cupboards seemed to shut down my allergies within 24 hours of the first cup of coffee. If I didn't drink one cup a day, my allergies attacked at full strength. I couldn't afford to go to the doctor and get a prescription for nasal spray. So I had to maintain the coffee diet. This was a direct contradiction to my already upbeat mood. It made me anxious and my anxiety attacks returned. I began taking St. John's Wort.

My daughter began throwing epic tantrums, partly because she was two, partly because she had gas and tummy aches. In fact, I avoided the children's bathroom due to the smell. It was like they were fed McDonald's everyday. Neither child was able to sleep through the night. My daughter began to snore and my son began to wet the bed. I developed insomnia. My husband gained five more pounds.


My son found his temper harder to control at school. He refused to eat the food served at school. He claimed that it didn't taste like it should. I went to school with him one day and I instantly understood what he meant. The chicken didn't taste like chicken the vegetables didn't taste right, and there was no fruit. I could afford to buy organic jelly and bread, but there still was no organic peanut butter. If I only drank water, there was money for organic juice boxes. Organic apple juice was not allowed by WIC. So I used the vouchers to get the milk and juice that WIC covered, and sold it to my friends at a discount so I could buy organic. I began making things that I had grown accustomed to purchasing to save money. Pancake mix, biscuits, juices, pasta, stocks, pastries, were all made from scratch to leave money for other organic foods. The price of organic food had dropped dramatically and the freshness had improved. I lost the two pounds I gained but I was regularly exhausted. I didn't have the drive to do much of anything. I became pessimistic but not depressed. My memory faltered and I could not focus on anything anymore.


My began to adjust to the loss of organic foods. Thanks to Costco, I still had organic condiments. I also found it cheaper to purchase organic meats and milk from Costco. So the organic to non-organic ratio was improving. My friends had begun to take on the organic challenge. It was nice to see the change in their lives. I found that I did not like the taste of non-organic food, neither did my children. I chose not to eat most times. This caused my stomach to shrink. I was unable to eat large meals anymore. I lost another five pounds. I still had not been sick this year. My son caught a stomach virus. But it lasted 24 hours. The first day, he had a fever and a stomach ache. By morning, he was fine, no fever or discomfort. Our dairy and produce was once again organic as the prices had come down. I had sold some items that I left wasting away in storage and used the money to stock up on goods. My energy level began to improve and my optimism had returned.


I lost 5 more pounds for a total of 12 pounds lost. My appetite did not return and I began a rigid workout routine. I had a healthy level of energy. I began to read more. I was no longer lacking sleep or suffering from poor sleep. My son and daughter regained their focus. My daughter's tantrums continued but only when she was tired. She was your typical two year old. I was able to afford organic foods again. Although the grocery store and about 30% of it's products listed as organic, Costco showed them no mercy in the competition. The only items in my Costco that weren't organic were junk food or precooked meals or meats. Once again our palettes were sensitive, our minds were focused. No one had been sick. I still did not need glasses. I was reading five books a month and I was no longer leading a sedentary lifestyle. I was consistently happy and had chosen to eliminate combative people from my life. My patience grew dramatically. It was very difficult to upset me. My sense of smell was heightened along with my hearing and sight. I began to see muscle definition and did not hit a plateau in my weight loss. We still had an aversion to fast food. We would eat it if we had no choice but it would make us very sick afterward. I began taking food with us to avoid this.


I found a system that allowed me to maintain an organic lifestyle . If it could be made from scratch, I made it. This saved money and allowed me to purchase more organic foods. I shopped around, any organic stores within a five mile radius was now in my IPhone. I could perform price checks before I went out to find which store had the best deal. I froze meals so that during those hard times, I could thaw out a meal and make the same groceries last longer. I sought out organic restaurants to replace Denny's and Chili's. My friends were now making the organic transition so, eating at their homes was nice. I provided my babysitter with organic food so that my children would have the same diet at her house. We still have not been sick this year. My daughter had a sniffle and mild congestion for 24 hours. I didn't medicate her. I flushed her system with water and she was fine. It turns out, she was catching her cousin's cold. Our bodies seemed to be able to fight illness better than family members who used hand sanitizer and ate non-organic food.

Have you switched to an organic food lifestyle? Tell me all about it!
Theredhousewife on Twitter. 

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