You know, I have been to Whole Foods a few times mostly to gawk, but I just couldn’t bear to buy anything. Everything is just so much more expensive than WinCo, our usual grocery store. Are organic foods really worth the premium they command? We like to go to the farmer market once in a while and pick up local cheeses, bread, and a few vegetables. The farmer market is more expensive, but we like supporting the local farmers. Shopping at Whole Foods on the other hand seems like supporting a big corporation.
Mrs.RB40’s mom recently sent us an article from Dr. Oz about this very subject. (Dr. Oz is a daytime talk show host who seems to be very popular among the retired crowd.) He argued that frozen and canned foods are just as nutritious, and they are much more affordable than their organic counterpart. The flash freezing technique preserves most of the vitamins and freshness resulting in healthy affordable vegetables. Dr. Oz also pointed out that free range chickens and grass-fed, pasture-dwelling cows are nutritionally identical. The absence of hormones and antibiotics can be important if you’re sensitive to that though. Let’s look at a few of the items on Dr. Oz’s list and see which ones we buy.
Peanut Butter – Gourmet PB can cost 2-3x the price of generic. Dr. Oz said paying extra gets you a glass jar and a few more calories, but there is no difference nutrition-wise. We tried a “natural” peanut-only PB and baby RB40 didn’t like it. We’re back to generic creamy PB and we are all happy with the lower price and the more familiar taste.
Mustard – Whole-grain Dijon can cost $3 more than the familiar bright yellow French’s mustard. Dr. Oz gave them a tie because the gourmet mustard has a more complex taste and adds class to a sandwich. We usually get variety of generic mustards. Right now we have Honey, Dijon, and Spicy Brown in the pantry. I’ll give the edge to generic because I’m quite happy with them.
Tuna – Who doesn’t have canned tuna in their pantry? A tuna sandwich is easy to prepare, tastes great, and is very healthy. Dr. Oz gave canned tuna and tuna steak a tie. I agree with him. A tuna steak is more expensive, but they both have a place on our menu.
Olive Oil – More chemicals are used to extract the mass market brand, but they are still heart healthy. Gourmet extra virgin olive oil can cost 5 times as much, but are nutritionally identical. Dr. Oz gave the win to the cheaper supermarket olive oil. We buy supermarket olive oil for most of our cooking, but Mrs. RB40 occasionally splurges on primo olive oil which she uses for dipping bread. When you really taste the flavor of the oil, premium is a lot better than the supermarket version. I’ll have to say this is a tie for us.
Eggs – Dr. Oz went with the supermarket eggs here too. Cage free chickens might be happier, but their eggs are the same nutritionally. Premium eggs are way too expensive for us. I’ll pass unless someone can show me that it’s worth it.
Milk – The clear winner here is supermarket milk. We purchased organic whole milk for baby RB40 when he was under 12 months, but now that he is chugging a gallon a week, we’re buying regular milk. He seems happy with either one so I don’t think it’s a big deal.
Generic and mass market brands are all winners or tied according to Dr. Oz and I agree. They are more affordable and they are perfectly healthy. We spend about $3-$400 per month on groceries and that can easily doubled if we shop at Whole Foods exclusively. When it comes to food, I think it’s better to concentrate on cooking healthy meals and controlling the portion size. Organic foods are great, but they just cost so much more than supermarket food. I have a hard time paying the premium because they all seem similar after I cook them.
Do you eat organic food and avoid generic and mass market brands? What’s your take?