Food choices - what and from where?

19 March 2018
March, week 3 in The Simple Home

There has been a sharp rise in the number of products labelled 'organic' and 'free range' on supermarket shelves in the past few years. Often I am asked if the weekly shopping should include organic or free range fruit, vegetables, meat and chicken, as well as the newer organic products we’re seeing now – butter, cheese, wine and tinned goods. It’s a tricky one to answer because there is never just one clear path to follow, we’re all so different; we have different needs, tastes and incomes, and we all know that 'organic' and 'free range' come at a price.

I’m lucky to live in Australia – and to pinpoint it more closely, in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. Not only do we have a beautiful climate and adequate rainfall here to grow a wide variety of backyard food all year long, we also have a lot of producers’ markets and small local markets. Within a short distance of where I live there is a dairy, an organic supermarket and butcher and a food co-op with a lot of organic produce such as milk, cheese, grains, flour, dried fruit, chocolate, tea, coffee, fruit and vegetables. So for me, it’s not a question of, Where do I find organic food? It’s easy to find. The question here is, Do I buy it?

Like many of us, I didn’t question whether to choose organic when I first came to this way of living. But in the years since then, I’ve thought a lot about what 'organic' means and if I should tweak my budget, and go without other things, to buy mainly organic food. The answer for me now is no. When I have a choice, I prefer to buy fresh and local and in doing that, I have the added bonus of keeping my food dollars in my community, supporting our local producers.

I'm growing many herbs and ginger in pots and boxes now.

When I consider whether I should buy organic food now, I think not only of the synthetic chemical means of production but also social factors and logistics. It’s not only a question about how food is grown; it’s much more than that. Do I want to buy organic food if the people producing it are paid next to nothing? Is organic food the best option if it’s been flown across the world from place of production to place of sale? Shouldn’t food miles play a part in my food choices? Should I still buy organic apples, potatoes and onions if they have been stored for months in a coldroom?

And what about 'free range'? We all think we know what free range means but you can check what it means in Australia. If you live in a rural or semi-rural area like me, you probably know the types of producers in the local area so if you're buying local, make your buying decisions based on your local knowledge.

Here is one of my new free rangers, this is Jean, a Barnevelder, who will start laying the most beautiful golden-yolked eggs in the next six weeks.  Our chickens are locked in a safe house at night and wander out onto the grass during the day. Their house remains open so when they wish to lay an egg, eat grain or have a drink, or if they see an eagle overhead, they go back in. Eating grass adds natural Omega oils to the eggs.

I have had a shift in thinking, and now I don’t just rely on a label to tell me about the product. When we buy our food, I think we should not only look at the health component, which takes in whether it was grown organically or not, but we should also consider how far it’s travelled from point of production to our door, how it’s packaged, and where that packaging came from. We should consider the means of production and the workers who produced it. A premium choice should be about more than chemicals and price. I think it should also include social justice and sustainability.  That's one of the reasons it's good to shop at a farmers' market.  If it's a genuine farmer's market, farmers will be there and you can ask them face-to-face about their produce.

Some of our new girls mixing with the older hens.

We need to think about animals slaughtered for our food. I want the eggs and meat I eat to come from creatures that have lived a decent life. I’d rather never eat those products again if it meant I was supporting and helping to perpetuate cruelty in the form of caged poultry, gestation pens or whatever else. For me, genuine free-range, fresh and local are premium products and they outweigh organic from another country, or even another state.

I make these pickled cucumbers because I can no longer find jars of Australian ones. If any country can consistently grow good produce, it's us, so I don't understand how it got to this.

It may sound like I’m trying to complicate buying a bag of potatoes and a pork chop, but I believe it’s important to shop ethically, and that using our consumer dollars thoughtfully is one of the best ways we have to bring about the changes we want to see. There is no right or wrong answer because the solution that works for all of us will be dependent on budget and supply, and possibly other factors for some people.  

Hanno and I partially deal with this choice by growing some of our own herbs, fruit and vegetables, as well as the eggs our hens give us.  Doing the gardening and tending the chickens produces the freshest of all food. Even if we were millionaires, no amount of money would routinely give us fresher organic food than our backyard produce.  Often it's eaten within an hour of being picked.  It's not the solution for everyone, but it certainly works for us and for many other readers as well.  Our topic next month will be growing food in containers so if you want to do what we do, stick around when we dive into the wonderful world of compost, worms, seeds and food plants.



  1. Thoughtful comments Rhonda. We have some great organic farms around us and at the moment, it's pick your own corn, strawberries and tomatoes. Absolutely love it along with the knowledge of where it all comes from plus supporting locals. For dinner last night our simple dish included home grown silverbeet, tomatoes, garlic, parsley and thyme. Nothing beats the satisfaction.

    I'm looking forward to your suggestions on container growing.

  2. Hi Rhonda,

    I love your thoughts on food and I wholeheartedly agree. I chose locally produced over organic, every single time. I also will only by Australian tinned or packaged goods (though we don't eat much of these). I am frustrated to no end that as a country, we exports our top quality produce and imports absolute rubbish. How backwards is our government to think that this is ok.
    Sarah x

  3. Thank you for this thought-provoking article on your blog. My husband and I have really talked about this. I have followed your blog for years now, own both your books, and have made your soap! Your knowledge and opinions are valuable to me. I appreciate you so much! We garden, can, freeze, keep chickens, and try to live responsibly. I get so frustrated with this world and sometimes feel alone in my endeavors until I come here and visit gDonna's blog!

    1. Kim, you're not alone. There are many people here who share our food philosophy and there is always Donna and me. We may be geographically isolated but our ideology is welded firmly to our daily activities, just as yours are.

  4. I do concur with everything you've said here, Rhonda. There was a time where I would try to buy organic everything and came to realise there was a smarter and more considered approach to food choices for me. In the city the organic choice is almost always unbelievably expensive, over-packaged and often old or stale. It's nice to buy from the grower at the markets but it doesn't always mean cheaper - City Farmers Markets are rather posh affairs and prices reflect this.

    My apartment block has a communal herb garden and it's a blessing! Reading about your garden is and its spoils is fantasy fodder around here...

    ps: Did you know that food grown in northern WA is shipped by the supermarkets down to Perth first, only to be shipped back to the supermarkets in Broome, older and with prices that reflect the 1000's kms of refrigerated transport? A logistical exercise not only in absurdity, but it makes it so tough on the many welfare-dependent communities up there.

    1. It's great to have a communal herb garden at your apartment block, Pipistrello. I did know about the WA situation. It happens to a lesser extent here too - north Queensland grown, transported to Brisbane for distribution and back up to north Queensland. I agree, it's absurd. Surely it's the best argument for local markets and farm gate sales.

  5. locally produce where i can, my friend who does some of my shopping also tries to get mostly Australian grown or made where possible; IGA used to be a good supermarket once, only getting in local produce but that fell to the wayside, not sure why.
    we have a grower that comes down to our markets & sells what vegies he can get too.
    i hope to get some vegies growing down at our community gardens for my winter supplies. my gardens are still still under going construction here (being redone)
    great post & food for thought of how & where it comes from too
    thanx for sharing
    selina from kilkivan qld

  6. I too appreciate your thoughtful explanation. I do not buy organic because of the price point and as a mom feeding a large, growing family, I cannot justify it. I do buy from the apple orchardist we know, and from the peach farmer we know, and tomatoes and corn from the stalls in the valley where we live. I cook from scratch and can peaches,applesauce,tomatoes, pickles, jams, and salsas. We have 10 hens(5 are retired) and I bake bread and desserts. I have enjoyed reading your blog to see how we are different,yet the same! Thank you for the encouragement! Martha in Washington State

    1. Hello Martha, your way of buying and using produce makes so much sense to me. Thanks for the feedback. Sharing similar values is a wonderful way to connect with people so far away. xx

  7. Great post Rhonda we hope to get a veggie garden in this year xx

  8. This is such an interesting topic and one that, as reflected in your insights and readers comments, really comes down to the individual. The individual person, the individual product and the individual circumstances. I think the act of thinking about it is a big part of making change, so many people don't think and just buy. There is no 'one right choice' so it's always an ongoing process of thinking, choosing and reviewing as we go along and new information comes to hand or circumstances change. We've recently moved interstate and are now renting so i've gone from growing a lot of food myself, and where I couldn't do that preserving local produce, to having to investigate a whole new way to do it. It's a bit more work now but I know it'll get easier.
    I (very informally) use a hierarchy of questions to help me make a choice that fits with my values/circumstances where possible: can I grow or make this myself? Can I source it from someone who is growing or making it locally? Is there an Australian made option? If I get here and it's a no I start to think about any viable alternatives or assess if I really need this item. Also thrown in there for fruit and veg is checking it's in season.
    I hope this post gets people thinking Rhonda. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. You are right Rhonda, it is so important to be mindful of where our food comes from. Unfortunately $$$ drives so much these days. My long term goal is to become as self-sufficient as I can with food. We have some land just outside the city where we are gradually planting fruit and nut trees, and eventually want to grow potatoes, garlic and as much as we can of whatever else is able to grow there. We have our own bees now and have harvested a fair bit of raw, truly organic honey this past summer. We have shared some with friends and family, some we have sold and some we have kept for our own use. It tastes so much better than what you can get in the shops. As we all know, "organic" is a very loosely used term when it comes to food labeling. There is a farm that sells fresh eggs near our property and we buy our eggs from there when we can. Not only are the better and fresher, they happen to be cheaper than in the supermarket. I would love to have my own chooks some day. One of my sons also likes to go foraging. Last week he brought home about 9 kilos of blackberries, a large basket of apples, a bag of nectarines and a small bowl of rosehips. Well I ended up with about 24 jars of blackberry jam, a pie and 4 bottles of blackberry cordial. I dehydrated the rosehips to make tea with, and some of the apples were dehydrated and the rest went into making apple turnovers. Last year we had a bumper crop of saffron milkcap mushrooms but haven't been so lucky yet this year due to the dry weather. Fingers crossed we get some autumn rain soon. Sorry, I've rambled on but I'm a little bit passionate about this topic! :) All the best.

  10. Always a difficult choice to make for many. I too, do not bother with "organic" food as I believe that half the time it is a label only. Also, as my family like to say, "all food is organic, we don't eat metal or inorganic things" - sorry, family humour. I try and buy in season and locally grown - for example, I really wanted asparagus the other day, but it was imported from Mexico, so I went without, instead choosing zucchini and broccoli, grown in Queensland. My other decision is to buy "not in plastic" as well and take my own veggie bags along to put produce in or just put it in the trolley loose. Every small action helps. Cheers Lyndie

  11. This is such a pertinent topic - well, clearly, as we all eat, and we all have to buy food. When I think of the journey I have come on over 25 years of adulthood and cooking for a family, I feel like I have tried out many different ways of sourcing food. I started at the supermarket, went to shopping locally and organic, and now, as a single mother who still really wants good food for her family but without the price tag, I grow my own, waste nothing, forage from the roadsides, eat edible weeds, swap with neighbours, use ethically raised meat as a condiment rather than as a main, make my own bread with organic flour and eat ethically produced chocolate only a handful of times in a year because it is so expensive.
    For me, as for you, it is not just about the health of my family, but the health of the planet and the people producing my food. How did it come to the point that we can import chocolate produced by child slavery in Africa? That is not the world I want to live in.
    I am finding that though we eat much more simply now, I enjoy the challenge of producing good meals out of almost nothing, and our occasional treats are much more appreciated and enjoyed than they once were..

  12. You started me off on this pathway many years ago. At the time I 'discovered' blogs and found yours, we had a market garden and grew a lot of our fruit and veg. We also had a small herd of cattle for meat and chickens for meat and eggs. We have since sold the property, moved a little further north of you and onto a town block. There was no garden and this meant starting from scratch. We eat most of our veg from the garden or from our fabulous greengrocer who buys direct from local farmers. We have a bit of a backyard economy in our local area. We swap fruit and veg and trade skills. One neighbour swaps us fish for cake and for me to take up the hems on his trousers. Our daughters boyfriends family regularly fish and swap us fish for my homemade soap(learnt how to make this following your blog). There are ways and means of having good food on the table without the 'organic' food costs. You just have to find pathways to do this.

  13. It’s about being aware of your choices, and your comments reflect how much awareness you put into this topic.

    I’m looking forward to no longer working Saturdays soon, which will enable me to attend local markets at a nearby schoo that are only open in a Sat and have farm direct food.
    Plus I’m looking forward to a regular weekend so I can get some routine in my life again. I thrive on my rythyms and routines.
    Leiani - Perth WA

  14. Tacked up on the inside of my pantry door is a list of the top dozen fruit & veg for harmful pesticide residue. I try to avoid buying these if they are conventionally grown. To get around that I look for them at farmers' markets and talk to the growers about how he/she grows their produce. They often don't have organic certification but take pride in growing with minimal sprays, nurturing the soil and picking close to market day. I buy also from a little shop who sells locally sourced produce and often there are good buys sourced from close by (reducing food miles, not paying for long transport routes or long storage times). Lastly, but probably most importantly, I grow some of these things, like lettuces, celery, spinach and potatoes, in my veg patch or in grow bags. I agree that's the freshest and most local food you can get! A while ago, I read a fantastic book called, "Sustainable Food" by Michael Mobbs (Sydney). He makes the argument that growing and eating locally is one of the most important and fundamental things we can do to help our beautiful planet. It's available at local libraries for Australian readers who may be interested. I'm not sure about those overseas. Meg:)

  15. Just have to say - I love your glass butter keeper. I have a similar one in green glass circa 1930s

  16. I agree that food miles are a really important part of the equation and I consider this whenever buying - it helps to buy fruit and veg in season too - if green beans are available at the wrong time of year for the UK it means they've been flown in from Kenya and I won't buy them. Cut flowers are another interesting conundrum - do I really want roses in December flown in from other countries? I try to pick flowers and greenery from my own garden all year round.
    I buy British meat and local if I can - from our local butchers he can point to the fields where the animals have been raised and name the farmers which is wonderful. Buying fish raises a lot of questions here too - our fishing grounds for cod etc have been overfished and need to recover but I don't want to buy 'tropical' fish from half way around the world either. I am still chewing this one over and trying to buy thoughtfully. I rarely buy organic but do buy some Fair trade items like chocolate so there is more of a guarantee that workers have not been exploited. Our garden provides lots of lovely soft fruit,apples etc and in the future we aim to grow more. What a lot to think about!

  17. I have just found your blog, love Gracie... that was the name of my best friend who died several years ago now, and who is missed so much. I would love to have chickens, have the space for them, but sadly health issues mean I can't handle them, and who could resist giving them the odd stroke or cuddle? So i have chickens vicariously through blogs, not the same, but it will have to do.
    The problem with 'organic' and 'free range' is, how do you know it really is? I know there are certain guidelines which have to be followed to use the names, but even so, I am a bit suspicious at times. Luckily our village butcher sells organic, and is trustworthy, and we have a farm shop a couple of miles away in the next village, one of many in this rural area. Plus we grow all our own veggies, herbs too, organically.
    Lovely blog, makes great reading, so I shall return.

  18. Rhonda I agree, if posssible backyard produce is freshest and best. I have cut back the amount of meat I eat drastically and often enjoy an egg as a replacement. Eggs of course need consideration also so I only buy free range. Of course buying free range has it’s issues as there are always stories circulating that free range producers don’t always tell the full story. Maybe I should find some one who has excess eggs to sell from a farm or their own backyard.

  19. Dear Rhonda, once or twice a week I read your new posts and sometimes a few of the comments below. And it is always good for me because I get to know that there are lots of people outside although on the other side of our world that have the same thoughts as I. And what's still more important they live what they think is right even if it is more expensive or more strenuous. This year I'm looking forward to getting a berry garden which in a few years when I'm going to be retired will give me fresh and organic fruit. I'm dreaming of chooks and bees as well and I hope I can do that work then and it won't stay a dream only. What I want to say is thank you for your constant and regular posting that remembers me of keeping my dreams of a live like yours alive. Best wishes from a small town in Bavaria, Germany. Tina

  20. We live by much the same ideas as you. We have a local family grower who opens a stand every summer and we give them business even though they are not organic. I also try to buy at Aldi because they are stocking mostly local in season foods and they have committed to not selling products with the eight pesticides that are killing bees. We have a heavily wooded property so growing our own is just not possible other than some pots of herbs and a few grape tomatoes in one little sunny spot. Living in the woods has it's perils for back yard chickens too and no one in our neighborhood has been able to keep the coyotes away. We do the best we can but it really irks me to live in one of the biggest peach producing areas of the USA and the local grocery only stocks peaches from the other coast 3000 miles away.

  21. It's a tough call and it means that I've had to really educate myself as to what labels actually mean - and it's not simple as manufacturers and advertisers would have us believe, in fact they seem to go out of their way to make it as complicated and misleading as possible!
    We've also had issues here where an investigative team from a very reputable TV program uncovered the issue of Farmer's Market retailers selling items that really came from the Wholesale Market - the same stuff that goes to the supermarkets and was neither locally nor organically grown! Our Farmer's Markets also tend to be rather chi chi and VERY expensive! I simply cannot afford to shop there. During growing season a friend will often take me along on a Sunday drive and we'll stop at farmers stands along the way and often get good bargains there.
    My experience with organic fruit & veg has been disappointing - often tasteless and spoils very quickly.
    I do buy organic & free range eggs - and I do notice the difference in taste so it is worth the extra money. I also try to do the same when it comes to meat - buy the best quality possible, grass fed and ethically raised, even though it's much more expensive - hence I now eat less meat. It's a constant juggling act these days with a much more limited income and if I had a family to buy for then I think cost would be the determining factor.
    An interesting post as always - thank you.

  22. Very good post, Rhonda. I, too, do not necessarily buy organic in the store. We live in a tiny town with a small farm that offers a CSA as well as a stand on Saturdays. What I do not grow, I get from them. Also, we get eggs from them. We are blessed to have a good, small health food store. It is a matter of finances when it comes right down to it. Since I cook from scratch, I have a little more leeway as to what I buy organically. I try to buy my flours, milk, eggs and butter organically and what I don't grow or can, then I try to purchase organically if the budget allows.

  23. This absolutely fits in line with a documentary I watched last night. Sustainable is on Netflix and I recommend it to any and everyone about food responsibility and their place in it. While it focuses mostly on the United States it’s still relevant world wide. Thanks for your writing and your opinions, Rhonda.

  24. Our seasonal farmers markets don't start until April and run through October. I find the vegetables to be good and I love the spinach and tomatoes. We will try some container growing this season. City dwellers don't have much space. Thank you for all your helpful information.

  25. OH--Rhonda, this is such a timely post. I have found that locally grown foods to be the best. I have come to avoid any labeled as "organic", as it is often not true.
    We now have a small backyard garden, and nurture it organically. We have a few small fruit trees, that are starting to produce. These foods taste so much better than the ones from the grocery stores. I am thrilled to pick from our garden, and serve it at a meal.
    I must say I have never given much thought to produce being shipped thousands of miles, to arrive here in Texas. I have found that a lot of that produce is "out of season", and really not as tasty as "in season/local" produce. Lots of produce comes from south of our borders, where poison sprays are used, so I avoid those, also.
    So, I thank you for the post and it is wonderful to find like-minded individuals from around the world, that think like me.
    As someone said, sometimes I feel alone in this way of thinking about food. I must treat with kindness, this little bit of earth that GOD gave me.

  26. The word organic is often flung about as the be all and end all, and you have broken our choices down very well. Everything we buy involves choices of some kind. I am looking forward to your section on growing food in containers as I have been doing more and more of that. I find especially with leafy greens I prefer to grow them quite densely and then harvest them as baby greens.

  27. I grow a little, have chickens and eggs and eat the roosters. I belong to a couple of food swaps where people bring their surplus home grown fruit and vegetables. I buy certain organic products from Aldi which has things like chocolate and teabags. But I buy Nevada loose leaf tea- not certified organic but chemical free according to their label and Australian grown. I am to buy Australian grown product first and foremost and in season as well. Like other respondents I won't buy out of season grapes from the USA or asparagus from Peru etc.
    I have however been receiving excess food from a major supermarket and majority is conventionally grown and packaged. I wrestle with this. Am I doing the right thing by saving this from going straight into the garbage whereas now some gets eaten by me and some by the chooks and some into the compost and only the packaging goes to the garbage? Is it promoting the production of packaged foods and production of excess and encouraging waste?
    Claire in Melbourne

  28. When I first became aware of the term 'food miles', I was aghast at how far away the food in local shops had been shipped. We live in the UK, but every trip you find 'fresh' items shipped from South America, Africa, etc.

    Some things it is obvious you won't find available locally (at least for us), but choosing wisely from the options- closest geographically, Fair Trade, sustainable, etc.- gives a little peace of mind, as well as limiting how often you buy them. Use seasonally and locally produced as staples, maybe use items produced further afield as rare treats?

    Another thing to think about is sustainability of seafood stocks and how they are caught. Line and pole caught fish are my choice, locally caught if possible.

    I cherish the days of my youth where a majority of our food was produced by us, or hunted and fished by us within a few miles of our home. The only things we bought were coffee, flour, and other staples we couldn't produce ourselves. I am very fortunate to have had that experience.

    There are so many choices available, quite bewildering. You can see why some people just bury their heads in the sand as it is easier to not think about it. But it is something we all need to be aware of and make careful decisions.

    We don't have to all make the same decisions, but making thoughtful choices would still make a positive impact.

    As always, thank you, Rhonda, for sharing your wise words. Blessings to you and yours x

  29. I love these much to think about! We purchase almost everything we eat locally. (Manitoba, summers, cold winters...16-18 week growing season.). For us that means purchasing in quantity, and then preserving.(freezing, canning, pressure canning, fermenting and dehydrating) We grow most of our own vegetables, and have bees for honey.. with a few exceptions that we have found local growers for. We purchase nearly local grains, and grind flour for baking. Another farmer grows wonderful strawberries, and we are so lucky to have one farers who grows fresh greens all year long (in a greenhouse in the winter). Meat is sourced from a local farmer,and we take part in the cutting/wrapping of a whole animal. Last year was pork, goat, chicken fish and rabbit. We have learned to make our own sausage, bacon, smoked fish, and more. This year we hope to source beef (but only a 1/4) We "shop" from our freezer and pantry. (and yes, sometimes this means that we may have a want that goes unfulfilled). Foraging, farmers market shopping, and using local manufacturers (we have one for pasta, one for nacho chips, and one for mustards/condiments) round out most of the rest our food.

    We by-pass most grocery store items. So in some ways, this makes grocery shopping easier rather than harder. (especially anything from the industrial food system..highly processed) We must rely on the store for milk, cheese, coffee/tea, some fresh produce, and the infrequent convenience my daughter and husband love bananas, and we do buy citrus (neither of these are grown in Canada) Also, I don't have a great cold-storage space, so long-stored apples, carrots, onions, potatoes and root veg are all we have available to us in the winter (if we want to eat fresh, and not canned). We eat as seasonally as possible, so when an item comes into season, we REALLY enjoy it.

    My biggest piece of information that I have learned is to ask around for local producers..then call them, and ask questions. That's how we found most of our farmers. Here, there are even farmers co-operative groups that take orders, and then make bi-weekly deliveries into the city.

    I think that the hardest part of all that we do is that there are not many around us who think the same way. I'm so thankful to find others here who are challenging the industrial food system, asking questions, and making decisions that are best for their families. (we are all different, and one solution for one person is not what works for all) Conscious, fact-based decision making is sometimes lacking in this world! I love working in my kitchen, and finding solutions to feed my family the best I am able, with what's available around me. None of these changes came quickly, or all at once. Over the years, we changed how we sourced different food items. I don't worry about being perfect in these decisions, simply the best that I am able. Local, organic, sustainable, fair-trade, and budget friendly would be ideal, but usually we must settle for one of these! We start with local, and then that opens up the ability to ask questions directly from the producer. As someone else mentioned, a lot of local producers do grow without chemicals, but can't say they are organic, because they have not registered as organic (lots of reasons why this would be...cost, paperwork, etc) _Deb V in Manitoba

  30. I love this post Rhonda. I had been struggling to buy organically grown veg and grass fed meats but my food budget is limited. This helps so much especially buying locally grown food. Another thing that I have been cutting out are the vegetable oils after finding out how they are obtained and all the steps that have to be gone through to make it something we cook with. I got sick when I found out what I had been putting in my body. We are cutting out more and more of the processed foods and cooking and baking at home where we can control what goes into the finished product. We get eggs from our grandchildren's farm raised chickens. We raise as many of our vegetables in the garden as possible and try to freeze or can if we have enough. Thanks to you and everyone else for their wonderful and helpful posts and comments. From North Carolina, USA

  31. Love reading all the different comments. I just finished reading the book The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner. There is a blue zone town just over 20 miles from me. One of the principles in the book is eating things that are no more than 20 miles from your home. Most food should be within walking distance. I have started looking more at where my food comes from, thanks to reading here and other books and blogs. Organic is far to expensive for me to buy and most of the farmers markets is more expensive than the stores. I have found the best priced items is with the gleaners. A group of people that goes into the fields and clean picks them at the end of the harvest. You get to keep half of what you pick the other half goes to families or seniors in need. The only cost is your hard work picking. Thank you for another wonderful post that gets us thinking and caring about what we feed our families and how we do our shopping.

  32. A great post Rhonda. I love reading the comments as well. I cook most things from scratch and I am certainly encouraged reading your blog post along with the corresponding chapter in The Simple Home. I do buy some organic produce but like many others I probably buy free range more than organic. I plan to return to the farmers market and shop the smaller stalls. The big semi trailer that sets up its store cannot possibly be all local I am thinking. Robynne

  33. If you can peel it, I don't buy organic. If it is reasonably priced, I will buy it. I always try to buy local foods; in California,that means grown in our state.

  34. Enjoyed this post, and I look forward to your future discussion on container gardening. Thanks for all you do!

  35. I just found your blog, and I'm glad somebody sent me looking for you! I couldn't agree more; while buying organic is important, I believe supporting the local economy is vital for so many reasons.
    I'm glad someone sent me looking for you!

  36. My apartment complex has no place for a garden and no decks or balconies. Management won’t even allow a pot along the side of the building.

    I’ve spent the past two years dealing with some serious health issues. I’ve learned to buy the best food I can as close to me as I can. In the summer this means farmers markets in which all the vendors are no more than a 50 mike radius. In the winter it’s more difficult but I do what I can.

    I will never doubt the wisdom of you are what you eat again.

  37. Hello Rhonda,
    Just wanting to say thank you! I have been reading your blog for 6 years now and it always leaves me hopeful and encouraged. It's become a regular part of my week to make a cuppa and come here. I've learnt so much and toady I really needed the encouragement so felt particularly inspired to write something. Sorry for not commenting before. Much love!

  38. Oh and another thing... Can you give any tips for keeping the eggs clean that the chickens lay? I know not to rinse them! We are considering starting with a small flock at home but I don't want to do anything that would cause sickness or harm to the birds or their home. Thanks!

    1. You just need to keep nests clean, replace straw when it's dirty and collect the eggs every day. We don't wash our eggs and we rarely have a dirty egg come inside.

  39. we have local 'farmers' markets in my town - yet there are no local farmers there. The stallholders travel to the big produce markets in the capital city, buy boxes of produce and then sell it to market-goers as local. It is a minefield out there when you are trying to buy local / organic etc. Knowing your growing seasons of the produce you buy can help though, for example if you are buying grapes in winter, then they are definitely not local.

  40. Thanks Rhonda, what a lot to think about. I enjoy reading everyone's comments. I buy everything from Aldi except for meat which I buy from the Butcher. Organic is too expensive as is locally grown for my tight budget. However am now reconsidering. I will buy locally but buy less and plan better. I will take the kids with me tomorrow to choose their fruit for the week and we will have a chat about it. I'm really looking forward to your container growing post as we have a tiny concrete garden for now while we are saving up for a house. I will try to grow as much as I can in it. Nia, UK

  41. yes! I also thought through this process a number of years ago. While there may be benefits to organic, in the end I think we have to choose our values. For me, buying local and from companies/sellers/producers who ensured good working environments and ethnical treatment of animals, where an animal product, became more important. Sometimes these then happen to also be organic, but for me, I have chosen the local/ethical side to be the most important value for me. Thank you for sharing your thinking process on this too :) I would love to be in the place to have veggie garden and chooks, but until then i'll live vicariously through you!

  42. I like the sentence: Where do I find organic food? It’s easy to find. The question here is, Do I buy it?
    Buying the same amount of produce, but organic instead of regular is not the way to go. That would not reduce the pressure on the earth.

    On another topic: I was inspired by your new layout en went to look where you got it from. I've been working up to it for months and last week went ahead with it and bought a layout for my blog! And what a good decision!


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