By Valerie Smith, Nob Hill Store Manager
As a store manager for La Montanita, I often hear people say that organic is too expensive. Of course, my knee-jerk impulse is to object to both “too” and “expensive”. How can an 18-fold reduction in your body’s pesticide load be “too” expensive, and isn’t paying taxes to reduce the shelf cost of conventional food “expensive”? But I do understand what they are talking about. We all have a certain number of dollars for bills to pay and mouths to feed; and organic generally does not price out the same as conventional.
Fortunately food is the most flexible expense in a family’s budget, which is good because it can be the 2nd or 3rd largest monthly bill. How easy is it to reduce your mortgage 10% in one month? Not very! But food has many areas where money can be saved.
The most expensive food we buy is served to us hot and ready to eat. I love eating out, but it is the budget buster for me. My family can easily spend $30-$40 in one meal, depending on where we eat. That can easily purchase 5 lbs each of organic carrots, potatoes, and dry beans. Not to mention that you will not find many choices for organic restaurant food. Cooking at home from basic ingredients is a method that always saves money.
Bulk buying of sale items can be a great source of savings on organic food. When rolled oats are $1.39, buy 5 lbs or more, depending on how many people you buy for and how often they will eat oatmeal. Catch the organic raisins when they are 20% off, and buy bulk organic cinnamon, and you will have a super delicious and healthy, organic breakfast option. Note that a specialty coffee and pastry at a coffee shop will buy at least 7 servings of your organic oatmeal breakfast with tasty additions. Bulk organic popcorn is inexpensive and a tasty snack food, as are organic sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
Becoming a Co-op member can save you many times over the cost of membership. For just $1.25 a month, you can easily save many times each month by taking advantage of “owner deals”. These deals are only available to members-owners, and can add up to good savings. During our volume discount events, members can save a minimum of 10% on one purchase, and up to 20% if they stock up. Based on our profitability and how often you shop, you can get your membership or more back at the end of the year in a patronage refund. Whether you choose membership or not, there are other sales available to all shoppers, so pick up the flyers at the door to see if items you like are on special. Coupon books are also available, as are pads of coupons throughout the store. You can apply coupons to any sale item to multiply the savings.
Organic butter and oil are important choices if you are looking to get away from conventional food. Most pesticides and petroleum contaminants are fat soluble and will concentrate in higher amounts in fats. If you only switch ten items to organic, switch your oil, and buy it on sale to keep it affordable.
For those making a switch to organic, I recommend starting with a basic list of items: carrots, potatoes, rice, beans, butter/oil, oatmeal, apples (or other seasonal fruit), pasta, etc. These can easily fill meals with yummy, healthy ingredients. Have a vegetarian night made with beans or eggs to keep the cost down. You can even make fancy and elegant dishes like pilafs, glazed carrots, pasta e fagioli, etc., without spending a lot of money. This newsletter always has fun, delicious, easy to make recipes.
By adding some key ingredients, purchased on sale, in bulk and with coupons, you can keep nudging the percentage of organic food in your diet higher. Knowing that this can reduce the pesticide load in your body and distance you from questionable GMO ingredients. You can feel good about moving in the right direction without feeling that you have to sacrifice your budget.
Gallup Arts Crawl Tastings
Sat, Sept 13 from 5 – 9pm
We’ll be having the first in a series of tastings at our Gallup store this Saturday. Chef Marko Bello of Eagle Cafe will be preparing a green chile pork posole and local vegetable stew that we’ll sample here from 5-9pm; he’ll also be giving out samples to entice people to the new gallery at his restaurant. Come and enjoy food from Gallup’s oldest restaurant with great new flavors that will please your senses. We hope you’ll stop by if you live in Gallup, or make the journey for a great weekend adventure!
Have you thought about how things could be different in your community? Bring those ideas and join us for a second round of Co-opversations as we explore what it means to build community wealth. La Montanita Co-op has invited the historian and political economist, Gar Alperovitz, to speak at our October 18th annual member meeting. In preparation for his visit we’d like to have some engaging conversations about strong, collaborative communities. Learn a little and share a lot.
Join us on THURSDAY, Sept 18, 5:30-7pm for a CO-OPversation. In the Santa Fe Co-op Community Room, 913 West Alameda and in ABQ at the Bachechi Open Space, 9521 Rio Grande Blvd. Beverages, Coffee and snacks from the Westside and Santa Fe Delis!
For more information email the Co-op’s Board of Directors at email@example.com, and keep a look out on our Facebook page and weekly email sales flyer.
Santa Fe Co-op Offers an Education in Cheese
Beginning this month, Jade McLellan, our Santa Fe Cheese Department head will offer classes on the history, varieties, and methods for making cheese. While you won’t make cheese at these workshops, you will receive a 10% coupon to purchase any item from the cheese department during the following weekend.
The first class, Cheese 101 will take place on Thursday, September 25 from 6:30 – 8pm, at our Santa Fe store in the community room.
You must RSVP to attend the class, as seating is limited. Please fill out the form below to reserve your space, or call Jade at 505-984-2852.
This will be the first of a series of classes on cheese, so stay tuned for upcoming events!
Registration for this class has closed. Please check back soon for future classes.
Tailgate with the Co-op
Get the Ball Rolling with Mt Vikos Spreads: Kalmata Olive • Babaganoush • Roasted Eggplant and Artichoke vegetable spreads on Lil Kristi’s Chips and Salsa, local from Roswell.
Tag team with organic Chicken Wings and T&B’s Cajun Marinade, a savory premium blended marinade, rich with spices and seasonings made right here in ABQ. Go the distance with our in-season, local & organic veggies. Slice, dice and skewer them with some of our local & organic Kyzer pork sausage and grass-fed beef.
Or, just sit back and relax and let us make the play with Co-op Catering!