Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Free-Range Chicken

When looking to purchase chicken for your next meal, consider a free-range chicken from your local butcher or grocery store. Free-range chicken are allowed to roam freely outdoors rather than being penned up in small cages for the vast majority of their life. This often makes for a better-tasting bird, and consumers can feel less guilt knowing that the chicken was raised in humane conditions. Free-range chickens might be contained to a coop during the night to keep them safe from predators, but during the daytime, they’re allowed access to the outside. 

What Does Free-Range Mean?

While not necessarily antibiotic free, many chickens raised in a free-range environment do have lower levels of antibiotics found in their system. Since they are not kept in as close quarters as their commercially-raised counterparts, diseases do not spread amongst them as quickly, making them less likely to need precautionary drugs. Conventional chickens are also given steroids to help them grow bigger and produce more meat, whereas free-range chickens are usually allowed to grow naturally. This advantage is then passed along to you, the consumer. 

Cost

Although free-range chicken will usually cost a bit more than regular chicken, it can be found at many local grocers and grocery store chains quite easily. Local butchers often carry this high-quality meat as well, although establishing a relationship with a nearby farm would also be a great way to supply your household. Free-range chicken can be around $2-4 more per pound than conventional chicken, but the health benefits to you and your family can be immense. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Milk

Have you noticed how more and more organic milk labels are listing that the content is rBGH free? What is rBGH and why are more milk companies choosing to leave this out of the milk? What is the difference between organic milk and typical store milk?  

Conventional vs. Organic

Milk. Milk has been one of the most important products for humans as a species. From the minute we are born to old age, we are consuming milk. Since this is the case, we should be highly aware of what we are drinking when we drink milk.  
 
Conventionally raised cows are commonly given rBGH, a growth hormone, that is banned in several countries outside the United States. There is no evidence yet that this hormone can harm us, however, some growing concerns in how it can hurt cows has been a topic of interest to many.  

Expense & Benefit 

Organic milk can come with a hefty price, especially if more than one person in your family regularly drinks it. It can cost more than double the price of regularly found conventional milk.  
 
Milk that is produced organically comes from a cow that has not been given any antibiotics and that has had a large portion of its diet from grazing pasture. Any other forms of feed must have also been grown without any pesticides or chemical fertilizers.  
 
Organic milk has higher levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids (important for brain health).  
 
In choosing organic milk, you would gain transparency in what you are putting into your body or your children’s bodies. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Strawberries

When considering purchasing conventionally grown products or organically grown products, it is important to understand what is used to help the product grow and what the overall benefits and disadvantage of each is.  

Organic Strawberries 

There is little doubt that strawberries are scrumptious fruit produced in almost bite-sized pieces.  
 
There is also very little doubt that strawberries provide many health benefits, but you should always be aware of the difference in how strawberries are grown.  
 
Conventionally grown strawberries are typically grown using toxic fumigants, growth hormones, and chemicals used for plant growth.  
 
On the other hand, strawberries that are grown organically use natural fertilizers, natural mulch, and preventative methods in order to control disease. Organic strawberries also implement mechanical methods to help reduce weeds that require more labored work. 

Expense 

 Anyone who has seen strawberries at their local grocery store can tell you that each pack of strawberries can cost quite a bit in comparison to other fruits and products. In fact, the conventional strawberries can cost about $4 a pound. Organic strawberries can cost more than $6 a pound, driving up the cost even more.  
 
Is it worth? Definitely.  

Benefits 

 The benefits of organic strawberries to anyone’s health include a burst of vitamins C and K, potassium, and manganese. Organic strawberries also have plenty of antioxidants and fiber in every bit.  
 
The antioxidants found in organic strawberries, such as ellagic acid, may help to improve heart function lowering the risk or cardiovascular diseases. These antioxidants offer anti-inflammatory benefits that can also help reduce the likelihood of strokes, inhibiting the formation of blood clots. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Potatoes

When thinking of various organic health foods, you always want to consider what kind of health benefit you will receive from consuming different foods.  

Organic Potatoes 

 All around the globe, potatoes are found and commonly used as a staple in any dish or diet. They are very versatile, and many unique dishes can be made from this simple ingredient.  
 
When shopping for potatoes, you should highly consider finding and purchasing organic potatoes. These potatoes are typically more concentrated with minerals that are higher in vitamin C, iron, phosphorous, and even magnesium.  
 
Organic potatoes also provide important protection against cancer and cardiovascular disease as they contain significantly fewer heavy metals than their non-organic counter parts.  
 
Potatoes that are organic contain starch that is more easily digestible by the body and is high in fiber, low in calorie.  

Where and How Much? 

 The term “organic” has been commonly associated with high expense. However, because potatoes are such a staple food that can be grown locally and all over the world, you can find reasonably priced potatoes at high quality levels.  
 
Always be sure to check out your local farmers’ markets for locally sourced organic potatoes at the best prices. However, for the busier family or individual you can find them online and shipped directly to your house, again at little cost.  

Star or Side 

Potatoes that are clean of various pesticides and offer all of these wonderful benefits can be paired with any dish, as the star or the side. Additionally, this is one healthy food that you will hear and have no complaints about consuming. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Apples

When you are worried about the contamination from pesticides and other chemicals, you will want to buy organic apples. Apples are a delicious fruit that is easy to take with you to work or to school as a snack, but you can also use these fruits in many recipes. This variety of fruit offers several vitamins and minerals along with fiber that will satiate your appetite.  

Why Organic?

It is easy to buy organic apples today, and some stores offer organic produce at the same price as the other types of apples. Call your local supermarkets to determine if the businesses offer organic produce, but also, you should remember that you can find organic apples at local orchards or at farmers markets. You can find different varieties of apples that have red or green peels.  

Cost

In some cases, organic apples will cost more, but the price difference is usually low, and you will know that the fruit is safer to eat. When you are buying organic apples, you should understand that the produce will often spoil faster because the fruit won’t have any protective wax or preservatives.  

Organic Apple Storage

You should learn how to store the organic apples properly in a cool and dry location that is away from insects or rodents. If you buy a lot of organic apples, then you should learn how to freeze or can the fruit so that it remains edible. Dietitians recommend eating at least five servings of produce each day, so you should buy organic apples frequently. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Avocado

Often, we walk pass the avocado section in the supermarket because it seems so expensive. But if we know, spending those extra cents will be beneficial to our health we would prefer spending the cents to keep our health. 

Daily Recommended Value

Among fruits and vegetables, avocado stand apart for the many ways it can support our health with healthy fats, protein, vitamins and mineral content. From 100 grams of avocado you get a quarter of the daily amount recommended. This unique vitamin helps build stronger bones, lower cholesterol, and assist in blood clotting. 

Nutrient Content

Avocado also supplies us with folate which may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, prevent some kinds of cancer and may assist with anxiety, depression and sleep problems. With the vitamin C in avocado, your immune system will be greatly enhanced to fight off illnesses. The potassium in this fruit can assist in lowering blood pressure levels, needed for people with a heart problem history. It has also been shown to prevent kidney failure. 

Avocado’s monounsaturated fats can also boost our cardiovascular health, prevent inflammation and related infections. Also, with its supply of fiber, this fruit assists with weight control. Avocados also help with the absorption of antioxidants which helps us to keep infections and even cancer at bay. It also aids in.maintaining eye health. 

Additional Benefits

There are other benefits associated with consuming avocado daily, including keeping arthritis at bay, reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis and reducing the side effects of chemotherapy. Also it’s a versatile fruit and can be prepared in many attractive ways. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Grass-Fed Steak

When considering which foods to buy and why, a top priority should always be to think about the future. You should always think about ways to provide the best for your body so that its health is maintained throughout the years.  
 
One way to do this is to consider the use of organic products.  

Grass-Fed Steaks 

 Steaks are usually considered a food that is served on special occasions rather than a part of a weekly diet. Even though this is the case, we should always consider the impact this delicious food has on our bodies.  
 
Grass-fed steaks are a healthy form of steak that should be considered.  

You Are What You Eat 

What cattle graze or feed on dictates the nutritional value of the beef produced. Grass-fed cows graze on grass and while grain-fed cows are fed a diet that is not natural to them. Conventional grain-fed cows are also given growth hormones and antibiotics that can impact their nutritional values.  

Benefits 

Being fed an organic and balance diet, cows producing grass-fed steak offer fewer calories and more healthy sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  
 
Organic steak can also help reduce the risk of heart disease as the steak contains lower amounts of saturate fats. It can also potentially help fight off cancer since it contains a great nutrient called conjugated linoleic acid. 

Worth it? 

 Grass-fed steak can cost double the price of your average steak. However, in thinking of the future, this type of food is one to consider for a healthy diet. 

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Organic Peanut Butter

When people talk about pricey health food, peanut butter is one of the first examples they use. “This jar of Jif costs $4 and will last me two weeks!” they declare, shaking a plastic jar of smashed nuts and preservatives in your face. “This one? It costs three times that and tastes like sawdust!”

While we don’t agree that natural and organic peanut butter tastes like sawdust (it’s an acquired taste), there’s a certain stigma around organic peanut butter. Maybe it’s the taste. Maybe it’s the layer of oil that sits on top. In most cases, though, it’s that crazy price tag.

But what does that price tag say about the product? And are there any ways to get around it? We have some ideas, and a few suggestions, to help you make sense of this ubiquitous health food.

Why so Expensive?

Organic and natural peanut butter is expensive for several reasons. Primarily, as is the case with most organic foods, the biggest contributor lies in production. Organic foods are grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, irradiation, and genetic engineering. This means producing the peanut is a lot more difficult and expensive than in non-organic and non-natural peanut butters. The farmers and manufactures of these conscious butters are also considering the environmental impact of their food.

This production goes beyond pesticides. Non-organic peanut butters also contain several preservatives, like aflatoxin, which are known carcinogens. However, the lack of preservatives means the product spoils faster. There is therefore a greater product turnover (I.e they expire faster) and more control placed on the amount of peanut butter produced (to avoid waste). Peanut butter is the perfect storm of health food risks and cost additions.

Could Fresh-Made Peanut Butter be the Solution?

Actually, yeah. It really could.

Even organic and all-natural peanut butter has added oil and, possibly, preserving agents. If it’s on the shelf and has an expiration date more than a few months away, something has been added to keep it tasting good and safe to eat.

The solution? Making the peanut butter yourself. It sounds tough, but odds are, a grocery store within driving distance has the ability to do it.

Take Whole Foods. Their nut butter machines are typically in the bulk bin section, and they look similar to meat grinders. On top, there will be large cases of almonds, peanuts, cashews… all types of nuts. To make your own butter, just choose your container, the nut you want to grind, and hit the start button. The process is easy, completely free of preservatives, and extremely cost-effective.

Most organic nut butters on the market retail anywhere between $7 and $11 per jar, and jars range anywhere from 12 to 16 ounces. Peanut butter at Whole Foods can be between $3 and $4 per pound, and there are frequently $1-off sales. That’s a savings of more than 20%.

So, if you’re looking for a way to bring fresh, organic peanut butter into your life, check out your local grocer or co-op to see what they have to offer by way of the fresh-made stuff. Your wallet will thank you.

Making ‘Cents’ of Health Foods: Top 10 Tips

As a certified healthcare consultant and organic farmer, I hear time and again how people want to clean up their diet. The number one reason they site as the source of their failure is the cost of organic food. So, here it is folks. No more excuses. 10 reasons why you can go green without going broke. Look for Rosas Farms local green challenge in the July Issue of Ocala Magazine.

  1. Your “Five Bucks” coffee costs more than a pound of organic chicken in most stores.
  2. Ready made hormone filled rotisserie chicken could buy a lot of organic milk. Use your food dollar wisely. Cooking: It’s where you bring the family back to life and life back to the family.
  3. Store brand organics are nearly the same price as brand name foods and are often on sale.
  4. Coupons, coupons, coupons
  5. After-market stores often carry organics. Try your local scratch and dent.
  6. Preparing food at home, especially in bulk is almost always less expensive than eating out, even if you’re eating fast food. The real cost of your fast food is for a completely different article. But, I digress. Remember leftovers? (No, not the kind in cute little white boxes.)
  7. Organic Rice and Beans are grossly underrated nutritionally and financially.
  8. The time spent waiting in line at a fast food drive through is exactly the same amount of time it takes to make organic scrambled eggs and toast with organic orange juice and burns way less gas. Breakfast is cheap. Who cares when you eat it?
  9. Buy less expensive cuts of organic meat like organic chicken wings and legs or organic ground beef.
  10. Eat less. You’ll likely live longer.