Guacamole at Chipotle: And Other Things You Can’t Afford

Champagne taste on a beer budget is how the phrase goes; and no saying has ever been more apt than when trying to eat all organic. It always bothers me when I look back on my spending at the end of the month and realize that I spend on average $300-$400 on groceries–every month! Now depending on your situation, this may not sound like a lot  but take into consideration, as I often do, that this is for one person and doesn’t include meals out or my $200 GNC trips. What would I ever do if I had family? A $400 grocery tab may give some people pause while others scoff at the amount, but the issue stays with me; especially when I think about how much less I would spend if I bought cheaper products.

Is it really worth it to buy the cage-free chicken eggs that recently acquired voting rights over the more modestly priced, but albeit slightly oppressed, store brand eggs? Is the organic label and the fact that your cow was socialized and given regular back massages actually warrant the 30-40% price increase? Will buying cheaper food cost you in the end?

In short, the answer is yes. Buying certain cheaper foods will cost you in the long run but not solely in a monetary sense. The conversation around GMOs, added hormones and pesticides is an important one to pay attention to because it involves the food that we all put onto our tables and into our bodies. And, while the regular strawberries at Trader Joe’s may be twice the size and half the price of the Organic ones there’s a cost being paid at the molecular level. Numerous scholarly articles like “The Effects of Agricultural Pesticides on Humans” published in the scientific journal Archives of Environmental Health, detail the harmful and lasting effects of pesticides on humans and wildlife.

The effects include: infertility in both men and women, cancer, increased levels of ADHD in children, stunted developmental capacity and the list goes on. It’s no secret that these additives are killing us slowly, but that’s not the real tragedy of the story. The true star-crossed end to this tale is that many are aware of the studies and the effects of additives but can’t afford to do anything about it. Many individuals and families are, in economic terms, being priced out of a life.

So, can you actually afford to eat high quality food when you’re not just feeding yourself or can’t swing a $400+ monthly grocery bill? The answer is yes again! Below I’ve outlined some practical steps to eat well in a world where Organic milk can reach $7 a gallon.

First, if you’re going to buy non-organic produce, avoid non-organic spinach, strawberries, apples, peaches, nectarines, celery, grapes and cherries. The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, ranks thees among the top produce with the highest levels of pesticides.

Also, if you are going to buy regular produce opt for produce that doesn’t require you to consume the skin since that is where most of the sprayed pesticides hang out.

Wash your fruit and veggies in a mixture of vinegar and warm water. Dry the produce thoroughly and store appropriately.

When you are buying organic meats like chicken, weigh your food and get accustomed to an actual serving of chicken breast. I’ll give you a hint it’s often not the entire thing.

Save money by not paying extra for things that are unnecessarily labeled Organic. Gluten free water is a scam!

Save eating grass-fed red meat and red meat in general for special occasions. Instead try and opt for less expensive meats  like ground turkey. Chose fresh Cod or halibut over the more expensive Salmon.

Finally, if you’re determined to meet your protein needs through meat, opt for less popular cuts of meat like organic chicken leg-quarters or chicken livers.

Finally, A politician once said show me your budget and I’ll show you where your priorities are. What we put into our bodies has to become one of our top priorities because we only get one body in this lifetime. I have watched friends ceremoniously put only the best oil in  their new car, or only the most expensive shampoo in their treasured locks. So, why should we treat our bodies any different? If there is one thing we truly cannot afford in this world, aside from guacamole at Chipotle, it is to take our health for granted.

To your continued Success,

Don Gilbert


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