The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Organic Direct: Awesome or stupid? March 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Alden @ 7:03 pm
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Is buying organic still the right thing to do if you have it delivered to your door by a truck, packed in a cardboard box, surrounded by paper?

I would venture to say no. But Groupon was offering a $25 for $50 worth of food deal at OrganicDirect a couple weeks ago so I jumped on it. I mean, thats $25 of free food!

One thing I’ve found with Groupon, is that the businesses usually are unprepared for the onslaught of thousands of new customers. Like Bikram Yoga, OrganicDirect seems to be struggling.

I placed an order a week and a half ago on Wednesday, but couldn’t book delivery until the following Monday. That was ok – I was just getting my staples and wasn’t planning on cooking a special meal.

They had a pretty good selection and I found everything I wanted. Though the range of brands was limited, I didn’t mind. (Did you know that people are actually happier with fewer choices?)

When my food was delivered, at 11:30 at night, I was missing my yogurt. Two days later, before I had a chance in inquire, they sent an email out saying that due to high volume some things were back-ordered. I would have to spend another $50 to get those items included in my next order. Sweet.

Anyway, the food was all good. It was basic organic brands that you can find anywhere: Cascade, Arrowhead, etc. Today I went to Whole Foods to do some serious grocery shopping and checked out the prices of all the stuff I bought from OrganicDirect. I wanted to see if I was paying for convenience.

Here is the price difference between Organic Direct vs. Whole Foods:

Arrowhead crunchy organic peanut butter, 16 oz: $6.09 vs. $5.26

Plain lowfat yogurt, 32 oz: $4.45 vs. $2.99 to $3.50

Organic boneless skinless chicken breast, per pound:  $10.59 vs. $13.69

GT’s Kombucha tea: $3.99 vs. $3.39

Organic hummus, 12 oz: $2.99 vs. $2.99

Organic white mushrooms, 8 oz: $3.99 vs. $2.79

Frozen mixed berries, 10 oz: $10.98 vs. $2.49

Frozen raspberries, 10 oz: $5.99 vs. $2.49

That’s a lot of numbers. Let me put it in some context. If I bought these exact items every week from OrganicDirect, assuming that prices don’t fluctuate, I would spend $11.98 more per week. And this was a minimal order. My grocery shopping usually includes a lot more things than that.

Of course, this is just a sample, and not scientific. Notice that the chicken, for one, was more expensive at Whole Foods. But assuming this is a trend, and setting aside environmental concerns, would I be willing to pay at least $12 more per week to have my food delivered? If I were having a hellish week at work and could order food in the morning to have it delivered at night, maybe. But overall I enjoy going to the farmers market when I can, and when I can’t, Whole Foods can be a treat. I can see, though, how this would really help people on a diet or a budget. Whole Foods tends to route you past the chocolate and pastry section when you check out, and its aisles are packed with tasty and adventurous snacks. OrganicDirect could help you avoid the temptation.

I think the break-it factor for me was the packaging. What’s the point of having 25 reusable bags if you get stuff delivered in a cardboard box?

Anyway, I’ll have to order one more time, just to get my damn yogurt.


Conscientous Carnivoring January 15, 2010

Credit: Apartment Therapy

This summer I heard the fact that if you wanted to make the most impact, you would be better off becoming a vegetarian than replacing your Hummer with a Prius.

Well, I immediately began cutting down on my meat consumption. But as with most eco-friendly tips that are thrown about these days, it wasn’t that simple.

You see, cutting down on the amount of meat you consume is a great thing to do. In a world where water and food resources are being strained, it makes sense to eat your calories in corn itself. It takes 16 pounds of grains to produce one pound of beef. Yikes!

Here’s the catch: the factoids above assume you are eating corn fed beef. Mmm, corn-fed beef. Sounds great, doesn’t it? If you go to the fancy steak house, Lewnes, in Annapolis, they tell you a beautiful story about the rich marbling of their corn-fed beef from Texas. But the best meat, the meat that is delicious and – more importantly – safe when it comes to food-born illness, is grass fed beef from your local farmer.

Yep, if you can ask the name of the cow or pig or chicken or turkey that provided your dinner, then you know that farmer took extra special care of that animal. Grass fed beef is more sustainable naturally, because the cows eat grass – not corn – which keeps corn from being taken out of the food chain. If everyone ate grass fed beef instead of corn-fed beef, that would reinsert 80% of the corn grown in the US back into the mouth of Americans.  Grass fed beef also doesn’t require a bunch of pesticides and hormones.

I learned all of this from Michael Pollan, and it changed my view of meat and food.

So that leads me to my new designation: Conscientious Carnivore. It’s a growing movement that is turning vegetarians back into carnivores. This article this morning from The Gothamist turned me onto the phrase, and I love it. It means that you can enjoy sizzling bacon, as long as you know that pig was free of hormones, was raised sustainably, and got to wiggle its little corkscrew tail in happiness, instead of shoved into disgusting pen with a bajillion other pigs.

It means you are still eating sustainably, and showing the meat industry that you have standards when it comes to meat. That you want safe food, delicious food, food that doesn’t take corn out of the mouths of those who need it.*

So be a conscientious carnivore! Head to the farmers market, or almost as good, Whole Foods, and grab yourself some grass fed beef, free-range chicken, or scrumptious bacon. And read this book. I will.

*The corn fed to cows is not edible by humans. But think of what the land used to grow it could be used for instead. Sweet corn! Orchards full of apples! More sustainable grown beef!


Being eco-friendly at work January 13, 2010

So, I’m in my second week of work. As I mentioned earlier, Ogilvy is well on its way to greendom. Though there’s some other things to be done. Let’s save that discussion for another time, yes?

Anyway, there’s a few things I’ve done to be a little bit greener, and you can do too!

  • Bring in a plant

Plants are proven to improve your happiness at work, first off. Second, they are pretty. And third, they clean the air. That’s important, because in a new building like this, paints can emit harmful VOCs for up to 6 months! Try these ten plants that clean the air, and be happy and healthy.

  • Have a “I’ll recycle this later” pile on the corner of my desk.

There aren’t recycling bins at every desk. Or even every area. So I put everything in one place to take away at the end of the day. My trashcan is so empty right now.

  • Get a lunch bag, bento boxes, and reusable silverware.

The cafeteria here is pretty nice as far as cafeterias go. But at the end of every lunch, all 15oo or so employees dump their lunch leftovers, takeout boxes, and silverware in the waste containers. Plastic cups go in the bottle/can containers. It’s a start I guess.

Last night I hit up Whole Foods and bought  insulated lunch bag. And it’s already gotten two compliments! It’s the model you see above. Cute, right? I have matching Bento boxes that come in every size you could need, and a set of bamboo silverware. I also bought some food from the Whole Foods salad bar, and saved half for lunch today. That brings me to my next tip…

  • Bring your own food

As good as the cafeteria food is, and as much as I enjoy the salad bar, I don’t think it’s organic. It’s definitely not local. Sadly, I haven’t made it to the farmers market since I got back to the city. But I do have all the ingredients for an organic 3-cheese polenta, which I will make tonight. The leftovers are going in the Bento Boxes. My cubemates will be jeaalooouuus.

  • Get your own mug

It’s so much more luxurious to drink out of a pretty mug than a paper one, don’t you think? I haven’t gotten one yet, but I plan to stop by an antique store tonight and look for one.

  • Bring your own water bottle.

I mean, duh.

  • Rummage for supplies.

You could go to the assistant and say “Oh would you please order me some new supplies?” Or you could ask around to your neighbors. Chances are they have some extra stuff sitting in their drawers they never use anyway. I currently have a stapler/staple remover set, four folders, and four boxes of pens that I inherited from the last desk owner.

  • Print doublesided
  • Unplug your computer before you leave at night.

I’m pretty new to this office stuff. I think I’ll wait some time to get settled/entrenched in the office before I start making waves and requests for new recycling bins. But I would still like to know:

What else can I do to go green here?