Hip Mom Goes (sort of) Organic

Like many women my age, I was raised in a home where the usual dinner menu featured casseroles accompanied by a canned or frozen vegetable. My grandmother would trot out Jello molds on a regular basis. I wasn’t a picky eater and found most of this acceptable fare. But when I moved to New York after college, got a real job, and started eating in four-star restaurants occasionally, I was flummoxed by the glorious food: What? Vegetables can be sautéed, or broiled, and taste like this? You can do that to a salad? There are other meats besides ground beef? Fish can taste sublime? What revelations these were! I found that I lost weight effortlessly eating such healthy, varied meals and became very interested in cooking a rainbow-ful of produce and flavorful entrees – that didn’t star Cream of Mushroom soup.

Flash forward a jillion years, when I have more kids than you can throw a box of Oreos at, and tend to subsist on chicken nugget scraps, candy and Diet Mountain Dew. I have found my energy flagging, my skin sallow, and my postpartum weight gain harder to shake. While I still try to put together a balanced dinner for my crew, lunch and breakfast are chaotic free-for-alls, with a bit too much sugar and processed food-like products. Remembering how good real food can taste when prepared with a bit of care and forethought, I resolve to focus more on my family’s daily diet.

First I talk to my good friend Tracy E., who has an impressive knowledge of nutrition. She became interested in health and diet after she was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and found that eating certain founds reduced her inflammation. She gradually changed her diet so that now with her vegetarian diet and exercise, she is symptom free. Here’s what Tracy had to say:

Energy boosting foods we like are blueberries, apples, kale, spinach, salmon, mangoes, and asparagus. We all start every day with a handful of blueberries with our breakfast. I always buy organic apples, strawberries, blueberries and meat. Anything with a peel, like bananas and oranges, I buy conventional. It’s not worth the price when you take off a peel. My kids eat what I cook — I’m a vegetarian so (we eat) lots of veggies and soy-based products. I do cook meat for them and my husband, but that’s once a week or less. My kids prefer the soy crumbles for tacos! I also keep healthy snacks in the house for my boys, low sugar and low calorie options, because they don’t always want to snack on fruit. Luke likes the Z bars, and Owen likes fruit snacks but I have stopped buying those since he had a cavity and those are bad for teeth!

What great ideas! And the easy thing about nutrition is that can changes can be made very incrementally; even I can incorporate blueberries or other fruits with toast and cereal into breakfast. So here’s my favorite part: time to shop!

Luckily, the grocery gods recently have showered Tulsa with a lot of new options. Whole Foods at 41st and Peoria is, judging by its parking lot, one of the most popular venues in Tulsa for organic foods, gourmet cheese and all natural cosmetics and remedies. The chain is the first certified national organic retailer, a voluntary certification; the store prides itself on its stringent standards. At the midtown location, the offerings are vast, and the store continues to expand. While there are definitely some pricey products – I can’t bring myself to buy the gorgeous box of shortbread cookies for $8.99 – their 365 Everyday Value brand is really quite affordable for those of us who think “organic” always has to mean “exorbitant.” And their ground beef is quite reasonable – two pounds for $10.69. Plus, items such as Horizon milk and organic strawberries seem to be the same price I would pay at a regular grocery store. Whole Foods carries diapers, too; although, the “Seventh Generation Free and Clear” brand is so achingly expensive you wish the diapers came with a ½ carat diamond tucked inside.

Luckily, in another year or so, I won’t have to trek to Midtown, since another Whole Foods will be opening up at 91st and Yale. I can’t wait!

Another new option down south is Fresh Market at 81st and Yale. While not as big as Whole Foods, Fresh Market feels like a mini-vacation to Europe. it is so sensual to shop here. I feel a bit like a Parisian meandering from the beautiful broccoli over to the glistening cheeses on the store’s wooden, old-world floors. There’s fresh sushi, a small bakery, and an impressive array of olives and cheeses. You won’t find quite the panoply of goods that Whole Foods offers – the beauty products and healthy supplements are more limited – but it’s a great option for those of us not in Midtown. A warning to moms: they don’t carry diapers here! So you’ll have to make an extra trip — not a big deal sometimes, but with all the kids in tow it’s super horrifying.

And even little old Jenks has a new organic grocery store! Green Acres Market just opened August 6. It, too, is like a smaller version of Whole Foods. The produce is plentiful, the employees very pleasant and helpful, and the deli boasts a mouth-watering smorgasbord of summer salads. There’s even a little section for children’s health supplements that includes a selection of probiotics – perfect for keeping the kiddies’ intestinal flora in balance.

My friend Tracy also recommends hitting the local farmers’ markets. The selection of produce, meats, cheeses and breads are all delicious – and most assuredly local. And now there’s even a company that will deliver fresh produce right to your door: Fresh Connection Produce. This local company delivers everything from mangoes and peaches to lettuce and peppers straight from the farm, so you know that you’re getting the best of in season fruits and vegetables. How convenient for the exhausted new mom who can’t make it to the grocery store, but who needs the vitamins and antioxidants these perfect foods offer. Fresh Connection even does school fundraisers – I suspect you would like to buy your kids decent snacks more than wrapping paper or popcorn.

My only gripe is that Whole Foods and the like are not venues where you can buy skanky products like Oreos. Or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Or Diet Mountain Dew. Although I guess that’s the point: I don’t need stuff like that, now, do I? Or at least not as often as I eat them now…and Tracy inspires me: “I truly think your diet can help shape your future. I changed mine to vegetarian and added exercise and got off all my medication for my arthritis. I have more energy and sleep better when I am eating well. Diet is something that can be changed gradually, but the benefits are immediate.”

Here, here – I’ll drink (something hydrating and healthy – some sparkling lime mineral water, perhaps?) to that!

Categories: Hip Mom