While shopping at the commissary yesterday, in desperate need of milk for my house, I came to the dairy section with a screaming child. Nap time. Oh boy, I've done it again. I've lost track of time, picking out the best looking produce, reading all of the labels on my organic meats, scrutinizing over every ingredient in the snacks I've chosen for my nephews who are visiting for a few days. My toddler's had enough, but I haven't even gotten around to her favorites, dairy! I buy the same things every time so I can rush through this section like it's the back of my hand. At the end of the dairy, as I made my way to my last stop at the breads, I realized I just skipped the milk, a key ingredient to my child's happiness. I raced back over and thought I was losing my mind. Where in the heck is my organic milk?!
"Due to shortages in production, we will be temporarily out of organic milk," the sign placed smack in the middle of a completely empty refrigerator read. The entire organic selection, gone! Who's taking my milk?!
I was frustrated. Mostly because my kid was screaming, but frustrated too that I would have to make yet ANOTHER stop on the way home, totally negating my efforts to save money by shopping on base. (Sometimes I go a little crazy. Sure we could survive off of one half gallon of the "other" milk until we could get out to another store, but again, I'm crazy). I did smile a little knowing that the word is out, we need more organic dairy farms to keep up with the demand....the demand to provide healthy options!!
I did a little research and found that the entire east coast is experiencing this shortage, not just my local commissary (as I also found the shortage at Food Lion and Target). The problem is as the demand for organic milk increased toward the end of 2011, so did the cost of the organic feed that farmers buy for their cows. The problem was that the price of the milk stayed the same. Farmers had to adjust by feeding their cows less, and not buying more cows to keep up.
So, the next thing we will see is a hike in the price of organic milk (some say up to $1 more per gallon!), and then we will start to see our grocer's refrigerators full of the stuff. When I did find some, I bought as many as they had. Sorry fellow concerned consumers who are looking for organic milk at the Target at Monticello, I am sure this will all be over soon. I'm hoping before February 26, when my current stock expires.
This brings me to a very valid concern that people ask me all the time: "Why is it so expensive to eat healthy?" Many people say cost is a big factor when choosing foods for their family. We are very much a reactive society vs a preventative one, and one that needs instant gratification. Today I may see that I am only spending $5 on a full and satisfying meal that's ready instantly, but if I continue to do that, I will see thousands of dollars in health care costs down the line. Eating healthy, and spending the little extra money and effort to do so, pays off over time. I'll be posting shortly how to stretch a buck with healthy snacks and meals. Stay tuned friends!