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Big Decision, Mountain-Sized Relief

Until recently, I was adamant that my family and I would eat only organic food. I even wrote about the importance of eating organic on a previous blog, as well as in a couple of books about healthy eating.

But then, two things happened. First of all, we moved out into the middle of nowhere. Second – and this only a few weeks ago – I discovered that organic produce isn’t really organic, and that conventional produce is not as toxic as I’ve been led to believe.

Still, I felt it was worthwhile to make the monthly five-hour round trip to Whole Foods in order to purchase as much organic food as we could. Until the last trip a couple of days ago.

B and I were in the produce section, B just having eaten lunch and J about to eat his lunch while I shopped. He came into view on the other side of the produce section from where we were, and then I knew. Finally. At long last.

I knew we couldn’t keep doing this trip every month.

J wore the same expression he does whenever B has driven him to the brink. Frazzled and depressed. About as happy as I was every time we took this trip.

Our first formal family meeting

It was a little after six o’clock in the evening. The groceries had been unloaded and put up, we’d had a couple of hours to wind down, and we’d all eaten supper. I’d hatched a plan in my mind not long after putting the last of the frozen fruit into the freezer, and was thinking it would unfold the next day. But B couldn’t seem to settle on anything to do, and so I thought, what the heck.

“I want to have a family meeting,” I announced. “I want to talk about going to Whole Foods every month.” My boys were amenable to the idea, so I got a paper and pencil and we all pulled chairs up to one corner of the table.

When I was in college, I learned how to hold classroom meetings. As a teacher, I learned other strategies to promote productive discussions. So I used the strategies that I remember from my career. First, I made a “Pros and Cons” chart. Next, each of us in turn gave one pro or con (we started with the pro side). After that, we ranked each item on each side of the chart. Using a scale of one to five, with one being “not important” and five being “very important”, I noted the average rank for a particular item based on the number each of us gave.

Our pros and cons of taking the long trip to Whole Foods

Here’s what the chart looked like:

PROS (of going to Whole Foods)

  1. Organic food – 2
  2. Eating free samples [this one was from B] – 3
  3. Fair trade bananas – 5
  4. Save on shipping for non-perishables – 3
  5. Scenery during drive [B again] – 1
  6. Variety in produce – 2
  7. Library is on the way – 1
  8. 365 brand [this is the WF store brand, less expensive than name brands, such as 365 apple cider vinegar, 365 ketchup, etc.] – ?? [not applicable if we’re going to decide not to care about organic]
  9. Fresher produce – ?? [depends on which store you shop at]
  10. Great customer service – 2
  11. Play with ice when we get home [guess who suggested that one?] – 5
  12. Sell Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas – 3.5


  1. Lo-o-ng drive – 4 [too much sitting for me!]
  2. Too much time away from home – 5 [we were all unanimous on this]
  3. Money for gas, increased car maintenance – 3.5
  4. Food is expensive – 3
  5. Daddy’s not fun in the car [B’s suggestion, but I had to honestly second it] – 4
  6. Daddy doesn’t like the long drive – 5
  7. Trying to make space in the freezer for a month’s worth of frozen fruit and veggies, and then a few days later over 200 bananas, is SUPER frustrating and stressful – 5
  8. A [PET!!] rat might die while we’re gone – 5
  9. B is not fun in the store sometimes – 3
  10. Boring ride on the way home – 4 [B is tired of the audiobooks]
  11. Mommy’s eyes/head hurt after being in car so long – 2
  12. Mommy isn’t fun in the store – 4

The next step in the meeting

After ranking all the pros and cons, we could clearly see where all three of us were leaning. Only three of the items on the “Pros” list (numbers 3, 11, and 12) had a 4 or 5 ranking (I’m sorry, B is outvoted on the playing with ice one. It’s a 1 for his parents), while eight of them on the “Cons” list had a high ranking. And at least two of us agreed strongly on several of those. There was less consensus/care for the items on the “Pros” list.

In other words, we all felt that there were more and stronger reasons not to continue our monthly trips to Whole Foods, than to go on with this ritual that had become more like torture.

The alternatives

So we were faced with two alternatives. We could ditch Whole Foods altogether, buying all our non-perishables either from Sunorganic or Azure Standard, or we could visit Whole Foods once every two to three months and stock up on that which we cannot find locally.

The latter became the obvious solution, first of all because none of us are yet willing to give up fresh-frozen bananas (dehydrated bananas, available from Sunorganic, just aren’t the same in a smoothie even after being rehydrated), and neither J or I wants to support the big conventional banana distributors. Second of all, B doesn’t want to give up his Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas.

The final decision

Starting when we next get low on bananas, I will call in a special order to the Whole Foods we usually go to, and J will take the day to go pick everything up. That way, he can fit numerous cases of bananas and bags of nuts, seeds, and legumes in the car, along with cases of any other non-perishable we’re getting low on.

I am so glad I called this meeting. Why didn’t I do it a year ago?

Oh, yeah. I still believed that conventional produce was of the devil and that organic produce was purity defined.

What a difference a year makes…

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