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Sprout Organic Challenge: Our Experience

Read below as one of our top employees shares her experiences with the Organic Challenge…

During the week leading up to Thanksgiving, Sprout San Francisco challenged employees and friends to eat as organically as possible and to share their experiences along the way. A few days before the challenge began, I thought, no sweat, I already try to eat organic dairy and meat products, and am conscious of the “dirty dozen” and “clean fifteen” while I am at the grocery store. As the challenge started, I needed to put things in perspective and remind myself to be realistic about where I could make more permanent changes in my diet – especially in the years leading up to planning a family.

The night before the challenge: I didn’t have time to go to the grocery store, but took it as an opportunity to see where I was really at with what was in my refrigerator and pantry. I settled up pretty well: organic apples, bread, yogurt, eggs, tofu, cheddar cheese, carrots, onion and celery in the fridge, organic tomato soup, linguini, and alfredo sauce in the cabinet. I also had some “all-natural, nitrate-free” bacon, which I decided was good enough. I was feeling pretty good. I knew I could have eggs or yogurt for breakfast, tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch, and make linguini with alfredo sauce for dinner.

Day 1: I am the type of person who runs out the door in the morning thinking “who needs breakfast?” and who half an hour later absolutely needs breakfast. After the first morning spent snacking on organic almonds at the store,  I realized that planning was going to be essential for my success. Tomato soup and grilled cheese for lunch was perfect. Linguini with chicken and alfredo was an easy dinner.

Day 2: I woke up early so that I could make it to the grocery store where I bought organic milk, deli turkey and pepperjack, tortillas, kale, broccoli and garlic. I also found some organic pork which I would save for later in the week. I was “on the run” in the morning again, due to my trip for groceries, but I was able to buy organic hard boiled eggs at the café across the street from the store. At work, my coworkers and I caught up on how things were going and snacked on organic salami, cheese and crackers. Yum. We went out together after work to check out Prasino’s dinner options. They are a locally owned restaurant that strives to keep their menu as organic as possible. We ordered a few small plates, my favorite being the pork enchiladas which were spicy and fresh.

Day 3: My day off.  At this point it was extremely apparent that planning was important if this was ever going to work. Grab and go breakfasts were very important. So I made a really simple egg bake with kale, eggs, pepperjack and a little bit of that all-natural bacon to spice things up. I portioned it out so I could grab it on the way out the door. No excuses! Later in the day I cooked the organic pork roast I picked up at Whole Foods into carnitas. It was so delicious served with the organic tortillas, lettuce and salsa that my friend Janette makes with ingredients from her own garden.

As the days wore on I realized that I needed to keep things in perspective and be realistic. I am not able to spend hours every night cooking indulgent all-organic meals, but keeping my fridge stocked with organic produce that could be used in multiple easy dinners was possible. Kale for the egg bake also worked in a stir fry with broccoli and organic tofu. Broccoli worked well in pasta, as well as a side for baked organic chicken. One night I even made an Asian inspired noodle soup. The rice noodles weren’t organic, but the broth, chicken, veggies and sauces were. It really hit the spot that I usually satisfy with takeout.

Overall the week was challenging, but planning and a team effort at work and at home helped a lot. I cook dinner for two, and I can imagine it being much more difficult adding children into the equation. It really doesn’t have to be more expensive to eat more organic. You just have to accept the fact that you will be eating less junk. What I didn’t buy at the grocery store that week saved me a lot of money. I did get caught in a few pinches where I absolutely needed something to eat, and once I broke down and got tacos from the little shop across the street because I didn’t have time to go home. If I would have planned better this wouldn’t have happened. But instead of getting down on myself, I instead reminded myself that this was only my first week at a real conscious effort – it can only get easier.

-Frances (Assistant Manager, Chicago Store)