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What Does a Real Foodie Buy at…Costco?

What Does a real foodie buy at costco

It’s inevitable.

Any time I mention shopping for food at a store, someone asks, “So…what do you buy there?”

I’ve had conversations on Facebook recently about the quality of produce at Costco in various parts of the country, for example. It’s the same thing I do myself: Ask people how they do things in order to pick up tips that I might be able to use.

This week’s series, “What Does a Real Foodie Buy at…?” is going to do just that for various stores and online options, starting with Costco, where I’ve had a membership for just barely a year. Edit: Now that this post is nearing three years old, I wanted to let you know that I STILL love shopping at Costco and this list is still accurate as to what I add to my cart!

I thought about organizing this list by section in the store, like “frozen foods” “meats” “grains” etc., but what would be the fun in that? Instead, I’m doing it like this:

  • The Essentials (the best – things that make me say, “Whatever did I do before I had a Costco membership???” The best deal or only place to find something.)
  • The Basics (stuff that’s a decent deal at Costco but that I could also probably find somewhere else for similar if I worked at it)
  • The Fun Stuff (things we don’t really need, but it’s nice to buy them in bulk for a decent price)
  • The Bonus Items (the stuff I probably shouldn’t be buying, but do, because it tastes so good. Also sometimes makes me say, “Whatever did I do before I had a Costco membership???” and others times makes me say, “Maybe it’s not such a good thing to shop at Costco…”

I also want to let you know about Thrive Market – if you don’t have Costco near you, you will definitely want to check them out. It’s a membership site, like Costco is a membership store, but you can browse for as long as you want before placing your first order. At that time you’ll get 15% off (no coupon required) and then a 30-day free membership to make sure it’s for you. They carry a lot of organic options so don’t miss out.

The Essentials

This is why I love Costco – lots of well-sourced foods at good prices that I can’t find anywhere else.

But be careful not everything that’s packaged as a health food ends up being so. Case in point: I fell for some Acai berry juice that I read about in the Costco magazine and how wonderful the company is, sustainable, super food, all that jazz. I thought it would be fun for smoothies.

Foolish of me, I know, but I didn’t read the ingredients until I got home and had used it a few times. I thought it was “just juice.” It was acai berry juice with agave syrup and maybe even some other questionable ingredients. I was bummed! It’s not the first time I’ve been burned by an impulse grocery buy, especially at Costco.

Here are the things I really do buy:

  • Organic Frozen Veggies – the broccoli is heavenly, the peas were there once and I want them back, if I didn’t have so much dehydrated greens on hand and such a small freezer, I’d buy the kale or spinach, and the green beans have changed my life because I make these crispy green beans for snacks, five pounds at a time:Veggie Chips
  • Daisy sour cream – we make homemade ranch dressing with it and can get through the 3-pound tub; the price point is far less per pound than a sale price at our local box store
  • Organic corn chips – almost worth the membership price for this item alone! Two pounds for $5 and slightly less guilt about my biggest compromise convenience food, since at least I’m hoping to avoid GMOs this way. Plus, they’re really, really good chips.
  • Canned tuna and salmon in BPA-free cans – still kind of expensive, but the BPA-free cans and well-sourced Alaskan salmon are worth it to me. I stocked up as a preparedness measure. The “boneless, skinless” in the black cans makes a really great cold salmon salad.
These simple salmon patties are a great, frugal option for dinner. They take only minutes to mix up and cook!
  • Organic chicken breasts, thighs, and whole birds – I’d rather source from local farmers, because I know these birds are probably still raised in confinement and kind of nasty conditions like we chatted about yesterday on Facebook (see the conversation here) – but I just don’t have a consistent source right now that is worth the drive. Chicken breasts are my splurge convenience food – when other people would order a pizza, I cook with organic chicken breasts.
  • Bottled lemon juice – I was so excited to find this organic lemon juice with zero extra ingredients after I realized all the junk in other bottled lemon juice that I had been using in dressings and such for years. It’s so much easier than squeezing whole lemons and freezing the juice! I use lemon juice regularly to make water kefir, so this is a HUGE timesaver, and not even very expensive.

The Basics

cheese and crackers
  • Cheese – I know I’d rather have grassfed cheese, but when I can’t get it, it’s nice to have a few of Costco’s options: the 2-pound mozzarella is really cheap and tasty, although I don’t think it’s particularly well-sourced. Eh. I do what I can. The organic pre-sliced colby jack is a total convenience splurge, but nice for a super busy week. Kerrygold cheese is a little pricey but well-sourced and tasty.
  • ButterKerrygold butter is grassfed and a gorgeous yellow; I got the Costco membership to get the sticks of Kerrygold butter in the gold packages. Costco organic butter is a better price than Meijer but bright white. Neither are optimal, but they’re the best I can get locally without resorting to online ordering.
  • Quinoa – organic, best price I’ve found
  • Rice – most kinds are a better price than even bulk ordering at Country Life, but I do need to finish my price book to really get a handle on all the different kinds. We bought some black rice once that was supposed to have as many antioxidants as blueberries, and it was marvelous and such a FUN little experiment. They don’t carry it anymore though. Sad smile
  • Dates are a good price, as are some other dried fruits, but I don’t get raisins there, and you really need to watch the ingredients. I grabbed some dried blueberries once only to find out that they were practically candy because of the added sugar. We don’t get those anymore, but the Easter Bunny did get some sugary mixed dried fruit to fill the eggs. Better than jelly beans, but not health food.
  • Freeze-dried fruit in individual packages – this was a great option, although sadly not organic, for emergency quick snacks for John (and the other kids love them too). I can’t always find them anymore (both Mrs. May’s and Costco’s house Kirkland brand have been available in the past).
homemade yogurt
  • Frozen fruit – when our U-pick blueberries for homemade yogurt ran out recently, a 3-pound bag of organic raspberries called my name. Yum. So Yum.
  • Organic salsa – we love Mexican food, and Kirkland brand organic salsa is delicious and quite hot, the way we like it. Unfortunately, it’s in a plastic jar and contains sugar, so Meijer Naturals, no GMO, in a glass jar, with no sugar, is awfully good competition. I might not buy the Kirkland stuff anymore now that I really registered the sugar during Lent and couldn’t eat the salsa in our house!
  • Spaghetti sauce – It’s not organic, but it’s in glass and has no sugar or odd ingredients, and we like it. It’s not a great deal…but it’ll do. See comments for some very helpful notes on canned tomatoes at Costco!
  • Walnuts (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) and pecans – I get a better deal elsewhere on almonds (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!), which are chemically pasteurized at Costco, and cashews (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!), but walnuts and pecans are my best price point currently. Chia seeds too, although I need to doublecheck price.
  • Produce – we get quite a bit there, just because when I hit Costco I’m going to try not to hit another grocery store for a week or more. Organic lettuce, spinach, carrots, and sometimes fresh broccoli, and non-organic pea pods (my newest addiction!! So good for the munchies!), cucumbers (they’re expensive though), colored peppers, oranges, pineapple, bananas, garlic (from California), and avocados, which are always under $1 each and a good deal. If they have organic apples, sometimes I spring for those, but I cringe at the plastic packaging. 🙁
    • Note: Produce is probably the area most of all that you need to know price points and sale prices from other grocery stores, particularly fruits like berries. Also, consider seriously whether you’ll get through four pounds of broccoli or raspberries before it goes bad. Throwing away your food is never a good deal. I do not buy fresh berries at Costco because they’re still darn expensive!
  • Gluten-free pasta – they have carried an organic corn/quinoa pasta in the past that was tasty, but still kind of expensive. I get a whole case of rice pasta from Country Life and we’re pretty happy with that.
  • Organic sugar from Wholesome Sweeteners – the five-pound bag I bought last May is still around, so it’s safe to say that we don’t go through too much of it. I use sucanat whenever I can, but for water kefir I like to alternate, and some baked goods, especially for company, just need some “regular” sugar.
  • Spices – again, you really need to know your price point. Country Life and our local health foods store have really good spice prices, so it’s a balance. I noticed the garlic powder was from California, not China, so I got some…and then got home and remembered I should check about spices being irradiated before I buy. Too much to remember!
  • Broth/Stock – you know I don’t buy this stuff as a general rule (it’s too easy, frugal, and nutritious to make homemade chicken stock), but I decided to read ingredients at Costco one day thinking preparedness, since I don’t can my stock. The organic chicken stock was actually made with bones – halleluiah! – so I bought a six-pack. I’ve used one carton when I was out of stock and really wanted soup, and truly – it’s only okay. The flavor is pretty weak, but I’m spoiled. The beef “stock” however, even the organic (I think the brand was Pacific something-or-other) had no bones and something totally wrong in there –  maybe MSG, I can’t remember. It was a definite “no buy” even as a compromise food.
  • Extra virgin olive oil – I hear really good things about Costco’s Toscano EVOO (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!), and I bought a bottle – pricey, but very good. They also have organic EVOO under the Kirkland brand. I still buy my EVOO and coconut oil elsewhere, but many Costco stores also have organic virgin coconut oil for a very competitive price. Know your price point, folks! I’m working hard in the background on my own price book
Let Erin show you how she makes TWENTY freezer-to-slow-cooker meals, spending $150 on the whole lot of it at Costco! Full meal plan at Costco, dinner recipes, shopping list, and even Paleo/Whole30 adaptations on every recipe, all for only $5. You’ll save that much in both time and groceries even if you only prepare half the plan. Readers said they really loved using them, so I had to share!

Buy the $5 Meal Plans Now

Let me show you how easy it is to put together those freezer meals:

When you usually shop farms and markets, can you find real food groceries to buy at a big place like Costco? Here's my list of the best healthy options (and some fun goodies), with tons of extra ideas in the 150+ comments.

The Fun Stuff

  • Apple & Eve fruit and veggie juice boxes – I’d like to push the system and say, “I’ll bring a snack, but not a drink,” for sporting events, but until we run out of these boxes, I think I’ll just use them. They’re far better than Capri Sun or Gatorade!
  • String cheese – good to have on hand for emergency snacks, preschool classroom-wide snacks, and sporting events (see above). I do still need to do my price book for string cheese and make sure I’m not being hoodwinked into paying more than a regular sale at Meijer.
  • Nitrate-free sausages – another “convenience” food for us, to go on top of homemade mac and cheese (from Better Than a Box). I’m sad that the one we liked which did not have any sweetener (pictured above) has been replaced by one that’s not so tasty, does include sugar, and has more “kind of weird but not exactly toxic” ingredients.
  • Dried apple snacks – I only saw these once, but the only ingredient was “apples.” Great for backup snacks and the kids love the rings.
  • Almond and peanut butter – neither are organic, but the Maranatha almond butter is pretty good, and they have this natural peanut butter in the refrigerated case right now that’s just yummy. One ingredient. I can’t be too picky all the time!

The Bonus Items

  • If you have a sweet tooth, don’t even go down the fancy candy aisle at Costco. They have these sea salt caramels…and these macadamia nut caramel thingys…and…oh, dear. Now I’ve outed myself. There’s nothing good for you about the candy at Costco, but it does have slightly better ingredients than your average mass-produced candy. It’s a horrible temptation! We gave mixed bags of all our favorites to family at Christmas. Winking smile
  • Kirkland brand chocolate chips – the ingredients surely aren’t perfect (soy lecithin for one), but they’re sustainably sourced fair trade chocolate and good for a quick fix! 😉 Only 51% cacao, which is a bummer compared to the 60% Ghirardelli chips that Sam’s Club carries.
  • Snapea Crisps – unhealthy fats in these crispy little buggers, but I get hoodwinked that they’re gluten-free and at least include a vegetable. They’re probably extruded and awful for us, though! We get tempted by other fun chips every so often too, like sweet potato chips, that I KNOW aren’t good for us, but are a fun indulgence.
  • Local and seasonal beer – We’re finally old enough to drink for fun and not buy cheap lite beer. It’s an 80/20 lifestyle!

Is Everything Less Expensive at Costco?


In fact, I typically shop at ALDI weekly and Costco just once a month, tops.

I’ve done a price book thanks to my experience with Grocery Budget Bootcamp (read about that here), which saved me so much moolah over the years.

what does a real foodie buy at costco
Your turn! What do you love to find at Costco?
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

134 thoughts on “What Does a Real Foodie Buy at…Costco?”

    1. Yes! I was the food buyer for a weekend Girl Scout camp in 2010 and bought all the nonperishables for 120 people the weekend before–and then Snowmageddon hit, and not only was camp cancelled, but I could not get my car off my street for 2 weeks because the city did not plow. When I was finally able to get back to Costco, they took back EVERYTHING and gave me a full refund.

  1. Really like this series. In So. Cal. I had my choice of 3-4 different Costcos depending on where I was doing errands and gas savings alone more than paid for the cost of membership! Now in No. KY I have only one and it is 45 minutes away! Initially I thought it wasn’t going to be worth it to keep a membership, but I just can’t get what I want in the quantities I need otherwise. We’ve managed to figure out what and how much we use and make a trip every other month and can include TJs in the same trip. My list is very similar to Katie’s. Our Costco carries Cabot cheddar cheese. $4/lb so obviously more than Kirkland brand, but it is white and I love the flavor. I haven’t checked into their current practices, but my dad used to ship our family’s milk there when we had a dairy in NH and the cheese still tastes the same! TP is a good buy as is the organic tomato paste for making ketchup and pizza sauce. White vinegar and baking soda, pecans, walnuts and almond butter. A huge chunk of feta if I know I need a lot, though I’ve also frozen a portion with OK results. Organic salsa, yes the sugar is a bummer but its not much, and org. tortilla chips. Dried dates and cranberries . . . yes they have sugar, but I can’t justify the price for the juice sweetened ones. We have a nice frozen berry mix and I’ll have to check out the green beans and try dehydrating them. With a pinata to fill next week I’ll look at the freeze dried fruits and other snack options–i usually steer clear of those aisles! So glad this post came just before my next trip. Some things may be less expensive on occasion at Aldi or Meijer, but It is more worth it to me to go infrequently to Costco and TJs than try to keep on top of sales at lots of places and make so many more little stops with 5 kids in tow. Maybe I’ll be inspired to try something new–former experiments have only returned me to the ease of ordering from Azure Standard, Lucky Vitamin or Vita-Cost, Costco, TJs and local farmers. I am encouraged to make a price point reference to compare between those places. Thanks, Katie.

  2. Why do you say you threw Acai berry juice when you saw ‘Agave Syrup’ as the ingredient?

    Agave syrup has second lowest glycemic index of all sweeteners next to Stevia. It is way better than all these sugar, HFCS, brown sugar , honey etc etc.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      The jury is sort of out on that one, but at least as many people say the opposite of what you stated – that agave is highly processed, more fructose than HFCS, and importantly for my food philosophy, a relatively “new” food. My post on the subject:

      Soooo…it’s just not on my personal “better sweeteners” list.

  3. We love Costco’s big jar of organic fruit-sweetened strawberry jam! It’s a great jar for reuse, too, although the label is hard to remove.

    In our area (Pittsburgh) we also have Gordon Food Service stores, which have great deals on some bulk foods. Here’s my comparison of Costco vs. GFS. For grain-eaters, GFS has very affordable and good whole-wheat pasta. Other than that, GFS is typically better on canned foods, while Costco is better on fresh produce and organics.

  4. We love the ‘Nearly Naked’ popcorn – GMO-free popcorn in coconut oil and salt. So tasty! We also use their sprouted lentils, I’ve never seen them anywhere so cheap. Always buy the Australian lamb, too. They have roasts and racks. Australian lamb is grassfed and no antibiotics or steroids, even if it doesn’t say it on the packaging. Costco is cheaper than Wholefoods or TJ’s. The lamb chops don’t seem as cheap however.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Lamb would be something very new for me/us…hmmm…something to consider for variety, thank you!!! 🙂 Katie

  5. What! I can’t eat the Costco almonds!? I just bought a bag two days ago. Would you mind sharing where you buy your almonds or where a safe online place to buy them online might be. What should I be looking for on the label? Thanks!

    1. Try this website:

      1. Thanks. It makes me feel so sick that, though I thought we were eating something good for us, I’ve been poisoning myself and my kids as we have eaten SO many bags of Costco almonds in the past two years. Definitely returning the one I bought recently, even if we’ve opened it!

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Many say that the PPO chemicals totally dissipate right away. ??? Who knows, really, but I don’t know that you want to worry about poisoning your family. 🙂 We probably ingest more chemicals just by breathing, you know, but we can’t protect them from everything.

          Obviously your call on the return – maybe you could have a really good conversation and get Costco to make some changes! But I’m sure the nuts would be okay to eat and then you can find a new source.

          We learn something new every day, don’t we?
          🙂 Katie

      2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

        Thank you, Vikki!!! This issue is going on my “post ideas” list..

        🙂 Katie

    2. yes please explain these chemicals on the almonds if you can! I would appreciate knowing more about it. I have never heard this before and it doesn’t say anything on the Kirkland package of almonds I bought. seriously you just never know what you are buying these days. so sad.

      1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

        By law all almonds must be pasteurized. Companies can either use a burst of steam or something called PPO – some chemical term I can’t remember how to spell. 😉 *Most* non-organic almonds are PPO pasteurized. Meijer brand and Country Life are steam pasteurized, and now I’m hoping I remember the Costco one correctly, but I’m pretty sure they were PPO because I’ve never bought them…

        I get my almonds now here: It’s direct from the farmer, so the law doesn’t apply and you can get *truly* raw almonds.

        Hope that helps! All it takes is a phone call or email, usually, to confirm.
        🙂 Katie

        1. A few years back my husband got salmonella from raw almonds. So needless to say we consider that when purchasing “raw”. The trip to the hospital changed that!

  6. Nature’s Domain Dog food–best dog food I have ever seen and comparable in price to the awful stuff. But the best part for me is the local stuff the stock–we can get local honey, dates (I live in date country), artichokes, mangos, and strawberries. We tend to stop and sample (and sometimes buy from) local retailers that bring in their products. A few weeks ago we purchased hummus in different flavors, plus fresh pita bread, for much less than even the brands they sell regularly at Costco. I love that they offer local selections!

  7. I can’t believe no one has mentioned yeast. You can get 2 lbs for the same price as the tiny jar at any other store.
    I also love that I can get Carter’s clothes for the kids really cheap. Their pjs do NOT have flame retardants on them. 🙂
    Love all their organic meat and produce.

  8. Our Costco just started carrying TruRoots gluten free pasta, and even though we aren’t gluten free, I feel like it’s easier to digest than whole wheat pasta and it tastes good. I also buy the Kirkland brand marinara sauce because it’s in glass jars and has no “natural flavors” or “spices.” I just wish it were organic like their salsa. I also like their organic maple syrup and the organic 21 seasoning blend is awesome!

    I used to buy their organic butter, but I can’t stand the chemical taste… not sure why it tastes like that.

  9. I have gotten al lot of similar things , but recently I have I Indulged in hummus that comes in a big pa k of single servings and has no crazy ingredients. Expensive compared to making my own which I do frequently, but a great lunch packing item!

  10. Katie, are you a West Michigan Food Co-op member? That’s where I get all my meat. Creswick and S&S Lamb offer whole chickens pretty much all year but the price is more expensive than at the store. Ben, at Real Food Farm is taking orders for organic pastured chickens. The deposits are due by May 17th though and if you don’t have freezer space (like me, I buy just one) that’s not the best option. He has a stall in the new building at the Fulton Street Farmer’s Market. I think he’s also at the downtown market, not sure what day. Grassfields offers grass-fed cheeses (also through the co-op). The only thing is we don’t save money getting our meats/cheeses through the co-op, not over grocery store prices, but it’s local, grass-fed or pastured, no antibiotics/hormones etc. The eggs are a good price though.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’m not…it’s kind of a hike up to downtown or Fulton St. these days. I used to live on the north side and went there often, and I miss the big market! Metro is my “local” f’s market now, and not as many options. BUT now that it’s summer I’ll have more! It’s probably something I should look into, especially after I get the bigger freezer I’m pining for… Thank you!!! 🙂 Katie

  11. THANK YOU!! THANK YOU for this post. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed and realized that we are at about 50/50 after 4 months. I am slowly replacing all our regular foods with better quality/organic, etc. I made my 1st gallon of bone broth – and loved it. Also, we are on our 5th batch of kombucha – a replacement to our Crystal Light lemonade that we would drink like water. 1/8 of a cow, pastured eggs, gallon of coconut oil. I’m so happy with the changes we have made but there is still so much to improve on. Yes, I also stick my head in the sand when I can’t or won’t process anymore. 🙂

    God Bless you from a sister in Christ.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      What awesome changes, Janira! Way to go! Especially the Crystal Light; I bet you notice changes in how you feel with that change. Yay!! 🙂

      Check this out – you can reuse your chicken bones:

      🙂 Katie

  12. With regard to berries, if you rinse them with 1c. white vinegar to 1 gal of water – just dump them in, swish them around, and drain them – they will not mold or rot so soon. They will last a lot longer. Do not rinse them off. Once they are dried, you cannot taste the vinegar.

  13. My Costco just started carrying avocado oil by a company called Chosen Foods. For those that don’t like the strong taste of olive oil to bake with or in other cold dishes – this stuff is amazing. We dont’ use vegetable oil or any seed oil and when coconut oil or butter can’t stand the heat (like on the grill or when I’m stir frying) I use their avocado oil. Also makes AMAZING mayo. I guess my area was the first to get it, and is supposed to go to all the Costco’s in the next few months.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That is exciting! I’ve been wanting something other than EVOO that is liquid for mayo for years! Yay!!! 🙂 Katie

  14. Rachelle

    Great article, your list is very similar to mine when I go. Having back up stock and others when you can’t make it yourself is key. I found that I save tons on cheese compared to our grocery store ($7 per lb more at our local store than at costco). We fill up on gas too.
    Try Azure Standard for nuts and other items that are organic. They have great prices too.

  15. Look for Kirkland brand Ancient Grains crackers. They’re not soaked/sprouted, but they are made with Palm oil rather than Canola! Delicious and $6 for 8 packages that would cost $2.50 ea at any other store.

  16. So excited about this post.. I shop at Costco all the time and was so interested to see what someone I totally respect food wise got there… a lot of the same! 🙂 I also get- as others have mentioned, our organic maple syrup and coconut oil there. And I am so glad to here about the bpa free tomato product cans! I was avoiding them because I didn’ t know but know I will check them out (the ones sans sugar). 🙂

  17. I wish i had a costco near me but im stuck with bj’s for now. I just wanted to mention that i used to buy string cheese but now i just buy the block of mozzarella at bj’s and cut it into long chunks and kids don’t know the difference. 🙂

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That is a super cool tip for at-home use! I tend to offer string cheese for kids’ sports treats too though.

      🙂 Katie

  18. We shop at the Southlake, TX Costco, and while I have my usual items that I buy at the store, I have been disappointed that there are not more organic offerings. But I was pleasantly surprised with a lot of NEW items on my last trip!

    I found frozen organic cherries, canned organic black beans, bagged organic baby kale, and organic lemon juice.

    Katie, I owe you thanks for your post earlier this year in which you mentioned “Italian Volcano Organic Lemon Juice.” I contacted our local store, and super-employee Jill looked into why stores across the country carry it but ours didn’t. Just a couple months later, I was so happy to see the juice! Needless to say, I’ve stocked up. We drink milk, water and carrot juice in our house, but organic lemon juice has been pricey. Those 2 bottles for under $8 are a deal. Thanks for the tip!

  19. BrownThumbMama

    Wow! Your Costco has a great selection of organics. Ours is OK but I wish they had KerryGold butter and cheese.

    If it will help you feel better about those weird apple-pods that they use–they’re great mini-greenhouses for starting seedlings. :o)

  20. Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I had a membership to Costco in 2011 – 2012, then let it lapse for over a year. But at the end of that time I was making my parents or friends take me every other week, so I finally broke down and bought one last week!

    Must-haves: Kerrygold butter, Romano cheese, cheddar cheese.

    Nice to have: Walnuts, broccoli, carrots (if they have them organic), mozzarella, dates, sometimes other produce.

    Fun: Root veggie chips, organic mac’n’cheese, freeze-dried fruit, pretzel crisps, string cheese, bunny crackers, fruit snacks (those last two are typically a Grandma’s-house purchase).

    I always check Aldi for their “produce picks of the week.” I headed over there today to grab some bell peppers (okay, not organic, I know…) and some onions. $0.69 for 2 lbs. of onions? Yes please! I bought 6 lbs. I often buy melons, pineapples, and other “sale” produce there, and at this point (they removed their organic line) not much else.

    I really don’t order much online because I have Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, Whole Foods, Earth Fare, Raisin Rack (local health food store), Mosley’s Meat Market (local butcher, all pastured/local meat), 6+ farmer’s markets, Amish country, dozens of local farms…. I only order almond flour, coconut oil, and a couple other things. I am lucky, I have SO many resources that while others are talking about the “great deal” they got online, I know I can do (much) better locally! Usually.

  21. I shop at Costco once a month for a few basics. We always get maple syrup, peanut butter, cashews, walnuts, pecans, white sugar, butter, string cheese and occasionally produce. My 3-year-old can eat through one of those containers of blueberries in a day if I let him. I will have to look in the refrigerated section because the stuff I used to buy was just on an aisle and it disappeared awhile ago when they had a contamination issue. We try a few samples when we are there, but I always make sure the check the ingredients. But now I will have to check out that lemon juice too.

  22. Stacy Makes Cents

    This whole post made me want to cry my eyeballs out. 🙁 No Costco. No Aldi. No Trader Joes. No nuttin’. I got nuttin.

    1. Trader Joe’s is coming…we’re getting our first two in CO this summer (so they say). I’m sure they’ll make it to OK soon!

      1. We have friends in OK City who asked TJ’s and Costco about their plans for OK. Both said OK’s liquor laws have it at the bottom of the list.

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Ah, now I see why you’re crying. We have no Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods nearby at all, which is pretty sad. Do you have anything like Aldi? Deep discount store where you bag your own at the counter…?
      🙂 Katie

  23. I love Costco! My favorites there are organic spinach, org tortilla chips (a lunchbox hit!), almond milk (3pack), organic ground beef (my compromise, we just can’t afford grassfed and organic with 4 growing boys! Not yet, anyway), org kale, frozen fruit,canned org tomato sauce and paste, almond butter, whole raw almonds, basmati rice, fruit leather (mine still carries the stretch island and hopefully always will, great for school lunches!). Org EVOO. I also keep a lookout for E.D. Smith Preserves, they only carry them seasonally and are yummy! Some great “convenience” foods I love are the mahi mahi and salmon burgers. Watch out for the Kirkland Vanilla, it has added sugar.I need to look for the lemon juice and org sugar and check the prices on coconut oil! Thanks so much for this informative post!

  24. Cinnamon Vogue

    Katie I am not sure about buying spices that are irradiated is a good thing. All the evidence I found is that non irradiated is better and retains the medicinal properties much better.

    I used to have both a Costco and a Sam’s Club membership, but found the quality and price advantage not worth the annual membership cost. OK I got a good deal on Hunts’ canned tomatoes which I like because they are wine ripened. The toilets rolls and food handing gloves are very cheap, as are certain cosmetics, razor blades and the like. The rice was also very cheap, until I discovered how bad American rice is, so stopped buying American rice. The vegetables are really expensive, at least compared to the Chinese market and the meats I would not touch.

    So in short Costco is good for certain things, as long as you avoid the temptation to buy junk food. And whatever you do, don’t take the kids. If you do take them, then make sure they are well fed before so they won’t scream for all those snacks and you end up buying a huge box of utter junk.

  25. Oh… I found the yummiest Kettle Corn in the snack aisle. Whoops! It is non-GMO and the ingredient list is short and good!

    I find that I shop Costco and Sam’s club both to fill in our list (after Bountiful Baskets or the farmer’s market). I wish one or the other would make a real commitment to providing organic produce (even just the dirty dozen would be awesome!). I could probably give up one membership then. And could just one carry NON- ultra pasteurized milk!?!

    1. Karen, double check your Costco milk. I buy the Kirkland brand whole milk (2 gal box), as an acceptable compromise because it is not ultra-pasteurized and no growth hormone.

      1. I think Costco has a “no bovine growth hormone” corporate policy. All their dairy is bah free–even when the same brand is not bah-free when bought elsewhere

  26. Our Costco carries Darigold sour cream, rather than Daisy…but the ingredients are equally good. At Costco. The SAME package of sour cream at the grocery store has icky other ingredients.

    The general rule of thumb is that irradiation isn’t being used on domestic produce AFAIK–which means that the big, handy bag of baby carrots from CA should be safe enough.

    The lamb roasts Costco has been selling are not necessarily organic (their magazine article didn’t mention that), but ARE grassfed. I can’t imagine sheep would do well enough under stockyard conditions to make it to slaughter, so maybe all lamb is grassfed? Anyway, they’re a bit on the upper end price wise, but they are _delicious_ . We are going to be short on refrigeration this summer, and I am canning to prep for that. I bought several of those roasts and canned up a BUNCH of lamb curry. (From my 4 1/2 year-old, “Look, Sister, Mommy made a WHOLE ROASTER FULL of lamb curry!”)

    If you buy Costco’s executive membership (even without the Amex card), you get cash back–last year, it was enough to cover the executive membership and then some, so our membership is effectively free. We just bought tires, and are planning a couple of other larger purchases soon that will come from Costco, so I expect next year’s membership will be covered, too.
    Our Costco usually has a good variety of frozen organic fruit for smoothies, too.
    Some Costcos carry Wild Planet sardines, which are AWESOME (I’m not usually a sardine fan, but these are that good). I’ve been requesting them at our local Costco.

  27. Aaarrrgh, we don’t have Costco and Sam’s Club is not the same at ALL. I’ve never seen anything organic there (except maybe some supplements and snack foods, which doesn’t count), and have nowhere near the selection that Costcos have. Plus, their in-house cakes (the staple of the church party, of course) are nowhere near as good.

    Also? They’ve even stopped carrying the Ghirardelli chocolate chips, at least at my local one. Only Hershey and Nestle now, blech.

    I suppose you’re also going to taunt your Trader Joe’s-havingness in front of me this week, too, aren’t you? 😉 I just wish good places would come to Oklahoma.

  28. Olive oil, coconut oil, eggs (only when my girls aren’t laying), organic lettuce, organic spinach, the usual suspects.

    We also pick up cinnamon and cane sugar for our bees.

    But my favorite find is products from Bob’s Red Mill, they come and go but I have gotten regular and GF oatmeal and steel cut oats. I’ve also seen whole wheat flour, but didn’t need 20+lbs at one time.

  29. I love Costco… especially for lunch! Between the samples and Cafe’ $1.50 it’s a great cheap eat.

    My favorites are the Sun-dried Tomatoes for adding to just about anything (chicken salad, finely chopped to add to my alfredo sauce and more). No one beats them on half & half either! Every early Spring I am on the hunt for new skorts! With a 7 yr old boy a mini farm and garden they are a staple in my closet.

    If you want freeze-dried fruit or veggies I buy from Thrive Life (I am a consultant) and Costco sells the same thing online only I sell it cheaper – factory direct. They are Certified Gluten Free, Non-GMO and amazingly delicious.

  30. Natural peanut butter, even if its in a plastic jar. Our local stores don’t carry large sizes of natural peanut butter. And yeast!

    1. Do you know the price of the yeast at Costco? I know Sam’s price but the Kirkland chocolate chips are dairy-free and I don’t really want 2 club memberships 🙂

  31. suzyhomemaker

    I go to BJs which is similar to Costco. The other day I saw they had frozen organic mixed berries. So I bought them.

    When I got home I compared the price with our local grocery store. BJs was 10 cents cheaper per ounce then NON organic at the grocery store!! So I was able to buy organic for cheaper.

    I also need to do a price book.

  32. Man, I love Costco! I also soooo appreciate their employment practices – they are legitametly a great place to work and pay decent wages, etc. Plus, I grew up in the suburbs where Costco started (i.e. I used to work in the City of Kirkland!), so shopping at Costco has a somewhat “local” ring to it. =)

    We buy canned tomatos, beans, our favorite local bread (Dave’s Killer Bread) in double packs, some meat, the organic chicken, almonds, olive oil, and lots of sundries.

  33. Note that you NEVER want to get Daisy Cottage Cheese. I thought since I love Daisy sour creme, that I could get the cottage cheese. Got it home, has a bunch of added junk, including carrageenan. Threw it out… UGH. Nevermore…

    1. Thanks for mentioning this. I didn’t know. I saw that Daisy now makes cottage cheese but thought it wouldn’t have additives.

    2. I’m not sure what Daisy Cottage Cheese you are buying, but mine says “cultured skim milk, cream and salt”. 🙂

    3. Can I ask which level of fat content your Cottage Cheese was? I used to buy the 4% milkfat (I can’t find it in my new city), and know for a fact that there wasn’t any added junk in that when I’d get it (within the last 6 months). DEFINITELY didn’t have carrageenan – that was how I started buying Daisy brand in the first place, an ingredient comparison.

      1. My Costco had only one of Daisy brand (was the only cottage cheese in the store) and that’s what I got. Sorry, I can’t remember the fat content. But I did ask them on Facebook why they have to add carrageenan, and they said it was harmless… yada yada yada. But it WAS clearly on the label. So it yours isn’t, good for you. Maybe different fat levels are different, but also read that label!!

        1. Exactly! It’s really bizarre that the ingredients on the same branded products can be different depending on where you buy them. You just have to read the labels. It -is- good to know that Daisy isn’t consistent, though. If I look to buy it again, I’ll remember to check the label every time. Better safe than sorry.

    4. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hmmm, I do get Daisy cottage cheese, and the ingredients are clean. Maybe you had a reduced fat version? They can get hairier with additives. ??? Katie

  34. We LOVE Costco! We bought their organic ground beef when we didn’t have a good way to get local beef, we love the coconut oil they now carry and the organic olive oil too! Oh and maple syrup! Dog food is good for us too, since we have a dog. I buy organic peanut butter and organic jam (though it has added sugar) and also their organic eggs since our local eggs are so $$$, I compromise with half and half!

  35. Ok, Katie I am told that all fresh organic produce gets scanned through radiation at Costco. A friend of mine said she bought organic strawberries that never rotted. I’ve heard from a reputable source that it is true. Have you heart this at all?

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      What??? Yucky. Arg. I have not heard this, but my head is in the sand most of the time, so that doesn’t mean anything. Time for some research!

      1. I’m studying to be a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and the info came from my instructor. She told us she knows someone that works in there distribution warehouse that can confirm it. I haven’t done any research further than that. I am also told that Walmart does this with all their produce for the Walmart shoppers out there. Yucko! I think they do this with any baked goods and produce including the organics.

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          It would be amazing to get a name and phone number that I could call, if your instructor would be willing to share. (my email: kitchenstew at Thank you!!! 🙂 Katie

      1. I have definitely suspected that Costco irradiates their strawberries because mine don’t ever get rotten.

      2. Ditto in Detroit area. Also, I noticed when I was there yesterday that they now have crushed organic tomatoes in jars (just tomatoes). It’d be WAY cheaper than TT!

    2. I’ve returned strawberries to Costco that were moldy within a day or two of buying them. I’m not up on irradiation and its effects, just giving my experience for what it’s worth.

    3. We don’t get the organic strawberries at Costco, but the non organic ones do go bad within a week, just like every other kind of fresh strawberries I have bought at other stores.

    4. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      The word from the company is:
      “No fresh produce at Costco is irradiated. Members can determine this because irradiation requires disclosure on the item or package.”

      Hmmm…wanting more info from a real person who can SEE it more than ever! ???Katie

      1. Ok, let me get in touch with my instructor and ask more deets. I’ll get back to you or have her shoot you an email.

  36. OLIVE OIL. It’s one of the ones on the “good list” and IT. IS. SO. CHEAP. compared to ANYWHERE else.


  37. I’m so surprised that you don’t make your own salsa! It is so, so easy and cost-effective.

    I use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, with a few tweaks. So simple!

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I’ve canned it in the past, but I haven’t been able to keep up with demand and the short span of time that tomatoes are in season in August, so I didn’t even make any this past year. We can go through 2-4 cups a week…so that’s a lot of salsa! But we LOVE it fresh and homemade when the ingredients are available. 🙂 Katie

  38. Costco has been a huge cost and time saver for us for certain products. As much as I would prefer to buy a local chicken product, I haven’t found one currently, so I get organic chicken at Costco. I occasionally get the organic ground beef, but we have a farm that carries organic, grass fed, beef so we usually go there. Organic olive oil in a big container – one of my favorite finds recently. We do buy a lot of produce there when our csa isn’t in season – organic lettuce and spinach being our big ones. Ours also has organic frozen corn in a huge bag (GMO free!). The organic canned tomatoes, black beans and definitely spices. I also found a organic white bread awhile ago – it was a tuscan white w/very few ingredients and unbleached, unbromated flours – they appear to have stopped carrying it tho.

  39. They’ve got great compromises for playdates, etc. Yesterday I bought some organic fruit ropes with no added sugar yesterday and Annie’s snack bags of graham crackers & cheddar bunnies as well as Honest juices. Not something we eat regularly but they are always a big hit with the little ones. They’ve also got organic apple slices and horizon organic single serve milks. Those are all things that we wouldn’t eat normally but I feel halfway decent about buying them, serving them to other people’s kids and ending up w/ the leftovers. If we bought CapriSun or something like that I’d end up sending them to work w/ the hubs. (They do not discriminate there; those men will eat anything.) Also their canned organic tomato products are in bpa free cans. But watch out bc the stewed tomatoes & tomato paste have added sugar. I buy the diced tomatoes (no sugar) and the tomato paste (just tomatoes!) and make the sauce buy adding water as necessary. Oh, and I recently found some organic sliced bread. I was hyped! We’re neither gluten nor grain free currently but we had been bread free for quite some time bc I just couldn’t bring myself to buy the extreme compromise that was available in the regular grocery stores here (most have HFCS, all have soybean oil, all have diglycerides/transfats). So it was a real pleasure to discover Alpine Valley organic sprouted honey wheat flaxseed loaves, 2/$5.99. Not bad at all and my husband is quite happy. He grew up eating a pound or two of very much white bread (freshly baked at least but still) every day. 🙂 So this is a significant change in eating styles. I also buy baking soda there, though the vinegar is cheaper at Sam’s. They had organic Classico spaghetti sauce for a while though now they’re back to non-organic. Decent nut butters too, and sometimes they have organic strawberry jam. I haven’t bought that one yet, though, bc the jar is MASSIVE and we really don’t eat a ton of jam. I’m thinking that one might go to waste. Also their TruRoots organic ancient grain penne & organic sprouted bean trio are calling my name though I haven’t bought them yet and they are pricey. Oh, and organic eggs. Here’s what they had to say about those: “The Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs are laid by organic hens, they are fed a 100% grain based organic diet, they don’t live in cages, they have the freedom to exhibit all of their natural behaviors and they have outdoor access during their awake hours.”. I also buy the organic ground beef which works out to $4.25/lb. But when Sprouts has their organic, grass fed beef on sale for $4.99 I stock up there. Costco’s is grain fed. As a newbie to the real food world I think Costco is a great deal for our family right now. Perhaps when we’re sourcing our meat and eggs locally it won’t be as great of a deal but for now I do most of my shopping at Costco & Sprouts (plus Farmer’s Market/Bountiful Baskets). Great post, Katie!

    1. If you’re buying Alpine Valley bread you must be in the Phoenix area, right? You know the Alpine Valley Bakery sells their day old bread for .50-$1.00 a loaf. You can buy up to 30 loaves I think. They freeze very well. It is on Southern and Country Club in Mesa. Might be really far away from you, but might be worth it. It’s the only place I buy bread.

    2. Patty Mikhail

      Love the Alpine Valley outlet in Mesa, AZ! On Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:00pm, they sell their fesh baked bread for $1.00 /loaf. You need to come early though, because there is usually a line. I’ve been thankful though that they usually have enough of the sprouted bread for me to stock up.

  40. Contacts, gas, toilet paper, they’re canning jars are the best price around for sure. Some of the thugs you mentioned, plus nutiva coconut oil is a fantastic price. Wild caught salmon and cod. Larabars and pistachios (although they are quite expensive).

      1. Canning jars are seasonal but our costco has them right by the freezer section in the middle of the traffic pattern.

      2. They kind of move them all around. Right now they are with the bulk grains. I would just ask your store. Definitely a seasonal item so get them while you can. I’ve been stocking up this spring since I didn’t have enough jars last fall.

      3. you can order them online from the Costco website, too. They have several different sets and options.

  41. I love that they have organic,’unrefined, cold-pressed coconut oil. They used to have Stretch Island fruit leather, but now they have essentially the same thing but in little pieces that fool my kids into thinking they’re fruit snacks. I get my pure maple syrup and honey for baking there, too. And pine nuts! And I wish they’d bring back the vanilla beans. And I just bought a Cuisinart there yesterday! And I love it so far! And I really want the Vitamix they have for $375. Ok. I think I’m done.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I miss the Stretch Island strips! Annie’s bunnies have a LOT more sugar, and that’s what our store is carrying now…

      1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

        I just noticed I have some of the Stretch Island brand fruit snacks, and the ingredients are fine – just fruit juice. Annie’s Bunnies hoodwinked me! They’re mainly sugar. 🙁 Katie

  42. THANKS! I love this! We don’t have a Costco by us, but sometimes when we’re up in your neck of the woods I stop by (or have my mom bring stuff when she visits), but then I’m so overwhelmed I don’t know quite what to get. I often grab nuts and/or dates. I might have to bring a cooler so I can pick up chicken LOL! I’ve been buying “natural” chicken but it’s not organic. My local, free range chicken source is gone :*(

  43. Olive oil and spices. The Kirkland Saigon Cinnamon is delish and less than $5. We eat alot of cinnamon around here, so it never goes to waste.

    A special treat–Naked Juice. A huge bottle for the same price as two ‘single serve’ at the grocery store. Blend with yogurt for amazing popsicles.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Yes, we got the Naked Juice when it was on sale once. They’re a fun treat (and popsicles would be even better I’m sure). 🙂 Worth emailing Costco to make sure the cinnamon isn’t irradiated…

      🙂 Katie

      1. You gals…be sure to buy Ceylon cinnamon and NOT Cassia cinnamon as the Cassia cinnamon has a significant amount of Coumarin which causes liver damage. Ceylon Cinnamon has between 2-5 ppm of coumarin compared to Cassia (2000-5000 ppm). I’ve been reading about this lately. Careful!!

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Arg…I saw that somewhere and stuck my head in the sand. I LOVE love love cinnamon, but really don’t care for the Cassia stuff. 🙁 🙁 🙁

      2. I know produce is often irradiated, but I had no idea spices would be! Is this pretty common? I’d like to order some from Mountain Rose Herbs soon, but have also been getting super cheap spices from our world market store. I wonder if those would be likely to have been irradiated?

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Irradiating spices is pretty common…and I am just learning about this produce irradiation thing! Darnit all!

          Mountain Rose Herbs is a really conscientious company; I bet they even address irradiation on their site. I’m 99% sure they wouldn’t.

          🙂 Katie

      3. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

        I heard from Costco! None of their spices are irradiated (they said that has to be on the package, but I’m not sure I believe it – looking into it). They also say no produce is irradiated. ??? Hope that’s true! 🙂 Katie

    2. Cinnamon Vogue

      Karen watch out if you are eating too much Saigon Cinnamon which still belongs to the Cassia Cinnamon family and has high levels of Coumarin which can cause liver damage or failure. Switch to Ceylon Cinnamon. I know, I know I am biased since I sell the stuff. 🙂

  44. I also buy nuts, cheese, butter, fruit, and non-food items. For example last year I got some great shelves for my garage for about 1/3 of the price they would’ve been at a big box store. I also buy pressed rawhide bones – the only ones I can find that are not manufactured in China. I haven’t tried the frozen veggies or frozen fruit but they are now on my list for the trip tonight!

    oh and GAS. At least here in Houston, Costco gas in consistantly 5-10 cents cheaper than any other stations (except maybe Sams). I got their AMEX card last year which is a memebership card and credit all in one with cash back – last year I got over $300 back. I share a memebership with my folks – they buy a LOT of wine.

    1. Wanted to update about gas. There are 3 Costco’s in Houston – one way out in the burbs on the NW side that I’ve never been too, one in central Houston closer to my house, and one on the west side near my office. I went to both the central and west side ones last night – A) they carried different items, the west side store had great 42 inch round dog beds which I didn’t buy becasue I was in a rush and thouight I would get them at the other store which had none, and B) gas was .10 more at the central Costco than the westside one, fortunatly I did fill up at the cheaper one. So if you have more than one Costo near you or even if you have someone coming to visit that has access to a different Costco, you might want to check it out for items not available at your store.

      Avaliability differences doesn’t surprise but I was suprised at the big gas jump – the central store price was the same as the Exxon on the corner of my street, and MORE expensive than the Valero I sometimes use by the office.

  45. I have to be very careful at Costco – several times it seems like I’m getting a great deal and then either I don’t eat the 20 jars of applesauce before they go bad – or I discover that Kroger or Target actually has a better price.

    I actually got a membership solely for the dog food. Kirkland’s brand is good – but I have my dog on a grain free food (ironic considering he still gets grain based treats but whatever) so I feed the Nature’s Domain. It is a high quality food and is much cheaper than the grain free ‘name brand’ at Petco or the fancy grain free from the natural dog store. I was paying between $50 and $90 for a 30 pound bag – the stuff at Costco is between $29 & $35 for 35 lbs depending on the type.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Ditto on the “oops not a great deal” – that’s why I need to get my price book in order. It can be deceiving!
      🙂 Katie

  46. What organic broccoli have you gotten at Costco? We got a big bag for $5 and silly me didn’t check the package till we got home… Product of China. Ugh, threw it away.

    Ours now carries organic EV coconut oil for a good price. And we get maple syrup. I’ve seen good organic EVOO before. Jones nitrate free Canadian bacon fo a treat…We mostly go for cheese and butter.

    You didn’t mention much produce. I know it isn’t the best, but they do have organic options. It saved us during the winter. And we still get staples like onions, organic carrots, garlic, clementines or organic fuji apples, avocados.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Yup, I just didn’t get to the produce yet. Updating now! 😉 I will have to check my freezer b/c I just bought another bag of frozen broccoli. Is anything from China just frowned upon these days, or is there something specific about food from China that has been in the news recently that I was under a rock and missed?


      1. Hi Katie!

        I first heard about the China organics thing last year when there was news of Whole Foods store brand frozen veggies/fruits being products of China. They are actually USDA certified organic, so is the Costco broccoli. Th might use organic practices, but their water/air/soil are among the most polluted on earth. And I just don’t trust that they are what th say they are, and have no idea how the USA could possibly inspect or certify Chinese farms. A friend shared this article with me a couple days ago, since I’ve expressed frustration at the Chinese organics on my fb wall before, and it gives good background info:

        1. With all due respect, I’m not so sure that US air/water/soil would be much better than China’s.

          We live in the central valley of California, a.k.a. the “fruit bowl” of America. Our soil is among the most fertile in the world and a huge percentage of our nation’s crops are grown here. It comes with a price. If you check out the lists of cities with the worst air quality in America, all the top ranked cities (with the exception of Los Angeles/Riverside) are within a 100 mile radius of where we live. I highly doubt our water is that clean either, and the soil is depleted from all the herbicides/pesticides, and lack of sustainable farming practices.

          My chiropractor said that he’s been to numerous Whole Foods Markets in the country. Our closest store is the only one he’s been to that does not serve organic produce in their food bar and does not exclusively carry organic produce. He complained to the management and was told that it’s just “too hard” and “too expensive” to get local organic produce here.

          Each morning at my kids’ school, they announcement the “flag color” for the day, representing the air quality. Some days, students do not go outside for recess, due to bad air quality.

          A friend who works in our local Emergency Room said that when a doctor from our of the area began working there, he exclaimed over the large number of lung/allergy-related health problems we have here, compared to other locations.

          Perhaps China has the same issues, but I guess I’m just pointing out the sad truth: just because it’s grown in CA, does not mean it’s less toxic than produce from China, although it may be more fresh.

          Having said that, I do what I can and try to shop smart. I buy most of my produce at our local farmer’s market (from vendors who have assured me they do not use chemicals on their plants) or from Costco. Yes, I’d choose CA-grown produce over China-grown because it’s probably fresher and is often locally grown. I also try to use the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen lists to help me decide which produce is worth paying extra for organic and which ones are not as big of a problem. I’ve read that if you stick to only buying organic for the Dirty Dozen, you’ll reduce your exposure to harmful produce-related toxins by about 95 percent, or something like that.

          1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

            Wow…now that’s a good bit unnerving. 🙁 I’ll be extra thankful to breathe our Michigan air tomorrow!

          2. I read a great book: Lost on Planet China. A. The pollution there is MUCH worse than in California. B. California’s pollution mostly comes from China. C. The rule of law is nonexistent in China. Bribing and corruption are sickeningly ubiquitous. I would not trust any organic certification of a Chinese product, even if the USDA did the certifying.

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Drat! Product of China on mine too. It’s such beautiful broccoli, and delicious. What’s worse I wonder: organic from China or whatever I get at Aldi or Meijer? Totally stinks that even buying VEGETABLES is so complicated nowadays! Sigh. I know eating my broccoli is better than munching on potato chips in soybean oil all night…’cause you gotta eat something. At least I’m informed now…

      🙁 Katie

      1. I agree. I can’t afford to eat much organic (unless it comes from my garden) and think that eating any veggies is better than none. Have you tried growing broccoli? I have and was completely unsuccessful (lots of leaves and no head, but at least the leaves were edible). Other things in my garden grew very well though (kale, lettuces, radishes, beets).

      2. Yeah, it really is hard, but I would eat anything conventionally grown from the US before I’d eat anything grown in China, personally. I get fresh conventional broccoli at the grocery store when it’s on sale for $1/lb or less. And I do coupons for frozen EB farms organic or our grocery store brand organic frozen broccoli. It’s somewhere in the neighborhood of $2-3/lb then, so not as great a deal as Costco’s, but better than China.

        Katie, you might want to check the freeze dried fruit labels, too. Freeze dried apple slices are a great snack for my toddler daughter (we call them “apple crackers” :oP) so I try to pick them up when I can, but you really need to check them out. Our local grocery store carries an organic/grown in USA brand, but also carries a much cheaper brand grown in China. Pretty sure I checked countries of origin on the freeze dried Costco apples and I remember seeing China or something else that made me put down the box and not buy it. :o/

        1. I do not think broccoli is on the dirty dozen list. I did like the frozen Costco organic broccoli but now this information gives me pause.

          Thanks for sharing

    3. I did the same thing … bought organic broccoli, then got home and saw it was from China. I just kept it in the freezer until I went back to Costco and got a refund. Costco has a policy that they will refund anything you aren’t happy with. I’ve returned popcorn that didn’t pop well (opened and tried), and apples that were rotten. I love Costco! They may returns so easy.

      1. I probably should’ve returned it. I haven’t had trouble with other returns, but remembering to bring something from my freezer is tricky!

    4. I just had to comment about the things people are buying organic vs. not. The environmental working group has a great list of the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15”- the stuff you can always buy conventional, and the stuff you should never buy unless its organic. Broccoli and onions are clean. Apples and peppers and strawberries are dirty. Then there is a bunch of stuff somewhere in the middle- nectarines (USA), cherries, plums… So if you’re trying to eat with less chemicals, its a great list to print out/bring with you to the store.

      1. I bought broccoli a few weeks ago. The next day I read this post and these comments. I immediately went to go check my package of frozen broccoli. It says product of Ecuador. At least the strawberries I bought say product of the USA.

        1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

          Yes, my Costco has Ecuador now too, which of course leaves a bad carbon footprint, but it’s not China! I’ll take it… 🙂 Katie

          1. Hi,
            First of all, thanks for the great article! I love in southern Cali. I LOVE Costco frozen organic broccoli and just bought some yesterday. After reading the comments, I just checked the label, product of the USA! (Washington). I also checked my frozen organic mangoes, they’re from Oregon. Also, checked my dried mangoes, they have sugar and sulfur dioxide. Will be returning those!

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