So finally I'm back with some answers to your questions you posted (like I'm some sort of authority of something). Again, I apologize that I never answered some of these before. My ISP is still spamming all comments from the blog so I don't know what the heck to do!
Anyway, my answers/thoughts:
Amber wanted to know where I purchased raw foods in Ohio and how did I find the raw milk co-op we joined.
I bought "raw" food at a combination of places, but by far the best was through the food co-op I belonged to. Basically, these was this woman who lived in Clintonville and she had organized a buying club through United Natural Foods. United supplies tons of grocery stores, organic and conventional, all over the U.S. You can join an existing club or form your own. I was fortunate enough to be able to join one that was already in existence. Each buying club is run differently. Mary, the woman who started ours, didn't charge a fee, which was nice. We were able to buy from United's entire product line typically at a huge savings over places like Whole Foods or Wild Oats. I would notice that sometimes the stores were cheaper--for example cereal tends to be a loss leader in the stores. They sell it really cheap to get you in there and buy other stuff. So once I experimented and realized what I should buy where, it got easier. There was definitely a learning curve. You can contact United directly and they'll tell you if there are buying clubs in your area. That's how I found Mary.
So that's what I did for grocery items. For produce, I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture Group) that was based north of Delaware, where we lived in Ohio. Ours was called Jumping Spider. And from late April to October, we got more organic produce than we could use. In fact, we split a share with our neighbors and it was still a lot to consumer. Charlene, remember all that kale?!?!? If only I'd known then what I know now! You can look for CSAs in your area on www.localharvest.org (for some reason I can't get that link to be active--sorry).
I found the dairy farmer through the CSA. It's all interconnected! Our farmer was based outside Mount Vernon and I had to drive to get it, but it was worth it. I drove up every four weeks and the kids loved it, especially when the calves were being born. I got my own milk directly out of the milk tank--talk about fresh! Out here, the farmer delivers it to our town and we leave our coolers out for him. But in Ohio, I went to get it. I have to say, as glad as I am that we do have the raw milk here, I thought our milk in Ohio was better. I can't quite put my finger on why, but it stayed fresher longer and it just had an amazing taste. If anyone is interested in the raw milk in Ohio, e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think I'd have to get permission from the farmer to give out his name. Raw milk distribution, sadly, is a very sensitive issue and the farmers have to be really careful to do everything by the book.
Kim wanted to know about the oat groats that I eat. Kim, I do soak them overnight (with a few almonds), but they don't absorb all the water. There's still water in the bowl the next morning. I just drain and rinse them, THEN I pour on the raw milk and top with raisins and cranberries. . .and maybe a little raw agave or maple syrup. My sisters and I were giggling over the fact that we feel like horses when we eat this. It's very chewy. I prefer them this way, but my sisters like them ground up in the Vita Mix with fruit. It's more like oatmeal. But cold.
As for my dehydrator, I ended up getting the 9-tray Excalibur. I remember when I was shopping for both the Bosch mixer and later the dehydrator and I would think, "hmmm, I could buy the smaller versions for much less." Then Erin would remind me that my small boys would one day be big boys with big appetites and I might regret having the smaller capacity machines. Heck, they're only 8 and 5 now and I already see that she was completely right. Rock on, Erin. The thing I love about the Excalibur dehydrator is that I can put odd shaped things in there. I can leave trays out and put bowls of stuff in there (that's how I make kefir). I'm not restricted to making flat things. Love that dehydrator. Did I talk about the cookies I made in there? Delish. Erin's kids ate them for breakfast, which is a-ok because they were just soaked oat groats, maple syrup, and then all sorts of fruit. I ate the "dough" in excess. . .
Anonymous asked if eating raw was expensive. The answer is yes. . .and no. It depends on what raw "philosophy" you end up following. If you're like Frederic Patenaude, who describes himself as a frugavore, I think eating raw is cheap. He just eats fruits and veggies and some seeds. If you follow some of the others who incorporate more nuts into their diets, that's where it gets expensive. Because I don't belong to a food co-op out here (United has restrictions on buying clubs here because it's such a small community and they don't want to tick off their grocery stores) I don't have a good source for raw nuts that doesn't cost a fortune. So does that help? Frugavore seems to equal a cheaper way to eat raw. I can get seeds pretty cheaply through Vitamin Cottage or Whole Foods when I have access to it. . .like last weekend when I was in Park City. Had to make a pilgrammage to Whole Foods. I only spent $68 which was some sort of record.
Makesmesmile asked if we can trust if things are organic. Good question because there have been stories out there that talk about how farms aren't following organic practices even though their products are stamped as organic. There have also been stories that all organics aren't created equal. For example, once Horizon started mass producing and was selling through Wal-Mart, stories circulated that some of their farms weren't following protocol. Unfortunately, sometimes Horizon is the only brand available to me here in a small town. So I buy it and hope for the best. As for specifics about meat, which was what you specifically asked and I've rambled on about dairy, I haven't heard about certain brands being better or worse. I used to get pork from our butcher in Ohio, but I have yet to see organic pork here. I can almost always now get beef, chicken, and bison, which is actually really good.
Laurie S. did I answer all of your questions about organic milk vs. raw milk? I still need to e-mail you about Swiminc!
1dreamer you made me laugh with your floaters comment, but so here's where I have a question for you. I've heard the same thing about floating poop. But why did Dr. Oz say it should float? I've never picked up that tidbit so if you've got that particular scoop. . .about poop. . .let me know.
Bridget I think $2.99 for 2 lbs. of flax seeds seems pretty good. Unless you're someplace where you can truly buy in bulk, I don't know that you'll get down below $1/lb. I think I paid over $1/lb. last week at Whole Foods in Park City so it doesn't seem out of line. I do usually grind my flax seeds because they're easier for your body to use. You might notice that if you eat them whole they usually come out that way. Supposedly that's why the Vita Mix blender is so good--it breaks things that your teeth can't actually break down so that your body can then use the nutrients. My seed bread recipe has some ground flax seeds and some whole flax seeds. I like grinding the seeds in a coffee grinder and sprinkling them on my kefir (or you could sprinkle it on yogurt). I really like the nutty flavor. I can't remember if I wrote about how you can subsitute flax seeds for eggs--this is what vegans do. Grind up one tablespoon of flax seeds and then pour 3 tablespoons of water on them and stir. As the water gets absorbed into the ground up flax seeds, they get an egg-y texture. So that one to three ratio acts as one egg. Great in cookies and different breads (like banana bread). I also put the flax seeds in my smoothies.
You can also make flax seed crackers, but the recipes I've seen call for doing it with whole flax seeds. I tried it once and thought it was pretty nasty. I thought it felt like I was crunching tiny cockroaches. The whole flax seeds just kind of gross me out. I think they look like fleas. That's why I'm a fan of grinding them. Don't let my flax seeds/insects comparisons turn you off of flax--it's so good for you. I'll look through my raw food books and see what other things they do with flax.
If I missed a question, let me know. Next time I was going to talk about cleaning without chemicals, which is probably the cheapest thing ever. Good news! Something about living organically that's cheap! You may never hear those words again.