Foods I Don't Compromise On
Paleo living on a budget has been the motto of our household for about two years now. As any of my previous clients know, where a food is on its Primal Food Spectrum gives you the better, best, and worst varieties any particular item so that an informed decision can be made, budget allowing. The idea is basically this: for meats, you have the best (local, pasture raised, grass-fed), the worst (CAFO), and somewhere in between you have an organic, hormone free, no antibiotics variety that is certainly a step up from CAFO, but not the best money can buy. And let's face it: sometimes your money simply cannot buy the best. Sure, it's fun to splurge once in a while and spend some extra cash on a Whole Foods excursion or order some prairie to plate Bison meat, but living in the middle of the Primal Food Spectrum is where my family and I find ourselves most of the time. However, there are some food items I try never to compromise on if buying for my household, especially if I can help it. Here are my top 5 in no particular order:
You've probably heard of the dirty-dozen and the clean-fifteen before, and for me this is a big one. Not only are dark-leafy greens like spinach on the top of the list for most pesticides tested for conventionally grown, but foods like leafy greens can be hard to wash well. I always make it a point to hunt for only organics for my salad base-layer. Not to mention lightly-washing organic leafy greens allows you to eat a little dirt!
Eggs are a tough one, because they can be so cheap and so easy to get. Plus they are a great, cheap way to get some excellent protein and necessary cholesterol. That being said, I have gradually worked my way up to pasture-raised eggs, and will never go back. If you think an egg yolk is supposed to look yellow, it's time for you to make the switch, too. Pastured eggs are undeniably more expensive than traditional, and even cage-free, varieties, but I think the cost difference is worth it. They are much higher in Omega-3's (those hens spend their time outdoors, foraging for bugs and other good things to eat), not intentionally fed a corn or soy-based diet (remember, you are what you eat eats), and because they are free to roam, have much less stress. Spend the extra couple of bucks and go for pastured if you can find them.
Speaking of eggs, the other day I was eating at one of our favorite breakfast spots with the family, and decided on two over-hard eggs with some bacon and avocado on the side. Out of curiosity, I asked if they used butter or oil to fry the eggs. "Oh, we actually use butter-flavored oil (insert face-palm emoji here). I politely asked for mine to be made with butter instead, and they happily capitulated. Oil is hard to avoid when eating out, and the dangers of industrialized oils have been briefly covered on this site. But when buying the good oils (olive, avocado, coconut) don't skimp, and buy the best if you can. There is a lot of fraud going on out there, especially with olive oil. So do your research, and only bring home the best - preferably from a domestic source, first cold-pressed only. Just because it says Imported from Italy doesn't mean it isn't padded with Canola. Yikes!
Speaking of butter (like my lead-ins?), if at all possible, buy the grass-fed varieties of any dairy you consume. I don't think this one is that tough to do as there are so many options out there now for grass-fed, including Kerrygold, which you can find almost anywhere. But take a look at your cream, cheese, butter, ghee and yogurt - splurge for the best. Being full fat, they carry with them anything good or bad that the animal ate. We want to shoot for more of the good stuff, and grass-fed is the best way to do that. Of course, you could always splurge for a tall, cold glass of this.
How do I take my coffee? Seriously, very seriously. I don't drink any of that floofy stuff anymore, so when you're just focusing on the best and most flavorful cup of coffee around without the bad (or, yummy?) stuff added in, quality is key. I always try to spend a little extra on Organic, Fair Trade, and sometimes even Single Origin. This is especially true if you have a sensitivity to mold toxicity like I do, or if you are buying decaf. I love coffee, but if I have a choice in the matter, I make sure it is the best that I can buy at the time.
There you have it. Five items I try to not cheap out on if at all possible. Am I saying I make room to accommodate some of these every time we shop? Well, yes. If I had to choose between spending an extra $2 on pastured eggs vs a pastured whole chicken, I'd pick the eggs every time and bring home that less-than-perfect organic, no hormones/antibiotics chicken, and be perfectly fine with my decision. The key is to not stress, have fun, be confident in your decision this time around, and happy shopping!