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Photo courtesy of Bob Gescheidle

Bob and Susan Gescheidle of Evanston stock the pantry with lots of organic foods. But, with the high costs of some organic products, they've made concessions for themselves and their four children.

Food for thought - A family's semi-organic menu

by Jane Park
March 16, 2009

Bob Gescheidle’s favorite food innovation is Batter Blaster, or “pancakes in a can.”

It has two things going for it, he says. The stuff makes breakfast a cinch and it’s USDA certified organic. You just open the can and squeeze the batter on the griddle.

Gescheidle, who works in advertising, sports a Batter Blaster t-shirt in one of his Facebook pictures and is even part of two Facebook fan groups devoted to the product.

“It’s all-organic batter that you spray on the griddle, it comes in a whipped topping can,” he raved. “You can make 25 pancakes, and we go through two to three cans a week.”

Gescheidle isn't an official spokesman for canned batter – he’s just a passionate father of four, including a son and daughter in high school who enjoy making breakfast for themselves and their friends.

About two years ago, Gescheidle and his wife Susan, who live in north Evanston, decided to revamp their lifestyle.

He conquered his sweet tooth by cutting out all sugar and dairy from his diet. Susan, an art gallery director, detoxified her body with a 12-week brown rice diet.

The couple later decided to go organic and continue their healthy habits.

“It just makes a difference to eat healthy,” said Gescheidle.

Charged with the task of grocery shopping for himself, his wife and their children, he was taken aback at first by the price difference between organic and conventional foods.

“After a while, I got past the fact that it cost more,” he said. Maybe the taste test did it. He said he still remembers the concentrated flavor of his first organic carrot.

The Gescheidles replaced staples such as milk, eggs and even produce with versions from the organic sections of Jewel and Dominick’s.

“We became a partially organic family,” said Gescheidle. He and Susan have to overlook some of the kids’ junk foods, he added. But, for the most part, they stock up on organic peanut butter and celery for munchies and try to keep their diets as healthy as possible.

“For me, the main reason is not to have the additives and the preservatives and the hormones,” said Susan. She said avoiding “the hidden things” in conventional products makes it worth paying the extra for organic.

But how much extra? The Gescheidles said lately they’ve been more attentive to the price differences in certain foods.

“Recently, meat is trouble,” said Gescheidle, noting that organic beef or chicken can sometimes double the cost compared to conventional counterparts. 

“A good steak that’s organic is so expensive. The chicken is on the edge and the milk right now is three times the cost of regular milk.”

The family has made some small compromises as a result. With so many hormone-free, non-organic meats available right now, Gescheidle said they could get around going all organic.

And although Gescheidle said he’s not keen on processed foods. But he does shop the inner aisles of the supermarket for some organic canned and frozen produce. These products cost only pennies more than the regular brands. He said the family still eats as much fresh fruits and vegetables as they can.

“Ideally, I’d want to get all my produce organic,” said Susan.

But then limited availability and a budget kick in. “You can’t afford to feed your whole family every single thing organic, down to rice and ice cream, she said.

Gescheidle said he believes organic eating benefits his family's health. “I know it’s better. Your body over time understands you’re doing something better for it.”

He said he realizes that organic products could be just as susceptible to food-borne illnesses or other contaminants as conventional products.

“But it doesn’t worry me,” said Gescheidle.

Recession or not, Gescheidle plans to whip and flip organic Batter Blaster on the griddle.