The Mindful Merchant

Shop – Eat – Live – Mindfully

Cheep Cheep CHEAP April 17, 2010


5741202 Attention frugal folk. A quick reminder to be on the lookout for the new 2010-11 Healthy Shopper Coupon Book at your local health food stores in the next few weeks. Scoop one up as soon as you find them because they disappear quickly.


coupon_book Coupon clipping might sound ridiculous…but if you are looking for ways to lower your shopping expenses, even small savings add up. This little magazine-like book is purse/backpack sized so it is easy to reference during a shop.


On rare occasion when all the planets are in alignment (or something), I am organized enough to search the Healthy Shopper website for E-coupons. It is FREE  and I usually find coupons for many items on my shopping list like yoghurt, almond milk, detergent, dishwasher tabs etc.


My friend is on the fence about buying organic products but last year’s coupon book inspired her to try some.  I like the Healthy Shopper Coupon Book because I am too cheap to “experiment” with different brands and pay regular  prices.  I cannot deny it, frugality is in my genes.  🙂




Good News Frugal Folk January 20, 2010

Filed under: organic food,organic products,save money,shopping — MindfulMerchant @ 11:41 am


Jakes 009 I am trying to put more thought into the food I buy, how to save money and eat healthier. Fruit & vegetable washes call out to me every time I see them in the store. I stop short of buying them because I am not sure if they actually work and they are expensive. Recently Meanie left a comment after the post “Are Organics Fuelling my Lottery Addiction?”  She asked if produce wash is worth trying since organic produce is so costly. This inspired me to stop wondering and do some investigating. Here is what I learned…


I could not find a study proving conclusively that using fruit & vegetable wash is the most effective way to remove pesticides, insecticides, wax, bacteria and dirt from produce. Every article claims regular tap water and a good ‘ol scrub is an equally effective way to clean food. That is great news for us frugal folk!


Do not worry if you use produce washes, there were no studies (that I found) indicating they were harmful either. If you like using them, another money saving option is to make your own using lemon juice, water and baking soda.


I did learn a few things about cleaning produce that I never considered. Do you wash your bananas?  How about corn on the cob before peeling?  I never do but this article claims we should be washing everything since potentially hundreds of people have touched your food before you pick it up.  Yummy thought.  If you are interested here is the link to more produce washing information.


You might be happy to know this is my last “greenwashing” post for a now. Trying to tie produce wash and washing fruit into…oh heck…I am running out of steam.  Now off to wash bananas…



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Allergies & My Big Mistake September 25, 2009

Filed under: allergies,anaphylaxis,health,health warning,heath and safety,organic products — MindfulMerchant @ 8:20 am



clip_image001The first few weeks of school brings home so much information. New school policies, procedures, expectations and important days to remember. I get dizzy trying to stay organized and up to date with everything. This year our school offered communication through the school website as an alternative to newsletters. What a great way to reduce paper!


clip_image001[3]Our children have come home with important allergy information.  They both have friends with life threatening allergies in their classrooms. Every day they sit together in the same room and share “nutrition breaks”. Like other parents, I carefully pack lunches and read labels to make sure they are healthy and safe.  This weekend I made a startling discovery in our home.


clip_image001[5]We are slowly switching over soap, shampoo, conditioner and creams to organic, earth friendly products. My Cousin Sue came for a visit and she told me about her recent diagnosis with a life-threatening allergy to almonds. She informed me of this new development as I was about to sprinkle toasted almonds on our dinner!  Who knew you could develop that type of allergy at this stage in our life?! (after all we are 29 wink wink)   Something made me remember to check the new hand soap I had purchased for the spare bathroom. It had almond oil listed as one of the ingredients. Luckily, she had not used it yet – whew! Perhaps Susan would have checked the ingredients before using but I know a little child would not. 

I wanted to share this story because I worry that this might be a hidden danger in your home too. If you do buy organic soap, creams and beauty products please scrutinize the ingredients list if you are having friends or guests over with life threatening allergies. I am discovering that the majority of products I find contain tree nut or seed oils. While I have read that bathing in a product with the allergens is not a big risk to others with allergies it got me thinking about safety and cross contamination. 

Now I am going to be very careful about all the products we bring into our home.  This might sound extreme to some, but when it comes to the safety of our friends and loved ones…why take the chance?




To Market we go September 4, 2009

I like to shop at our local Farmers Market. On Saturdays, I attempt to feed our 100-mile diet. The rest of the week, I am not as successful. It is a fun outing for the whole family. There is so much more to buy  than fruit and vegetables. You can find arts, crafts, meat, dairy, homemade jellies and sauces, fresh baking and sometimes a live band.


Our children are fussy eaters. Visiting the market has grown their vegetable repertoire. Seeing varieties of produce in beautiful shades and colours has inspired them to try new things. My daughter was offered a raw brussels sprout, tried and liked it.  I could not believe my eyes.   Who knew you could eat them raw?!  I thought they only appeared at Christmas boiled until they are pale green and mushy. (gag)


Meeting the farmers that grow the produce and chatting with them has given me a completely new outlook on vegetables.  Feel free to ask questions, their answers might surprise you. Some of the easiest and delicious recipes I use have come from producers. 


I realize that some prices are slightly more expensive compared to a large grocery store chain but you will find that many prices are cheaper.  I think the quality and freshness of the produce is undeniable. It feels good to support family farms and local business. There is value in knowing how your food is grown and produced. I like feeling connected with neighbours and the community.

If you are looking for something to do with your family consider a visit to your local farmers market. Happy shopping!


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Frugal US – the sequel September 3, 2009


This is a follow up post in response to my American friends inquires regarding a good online coupon site for natural and organic products. I really like The Healthy Shopper Canadian web site for not only coupons, but also good information. Turns out, they have another site called Naturally Savvy and they offer some coupons for shopping in the U.S. There is also a wealth of interesting reading to check out too.  Not only did they promptly answer my questions, they also suggested another super site called Mambo Sprouts. That is very cool, don’t you think? Mambo Sprouts has printable free coupons for organic/natural products and again, lots of great information too. Here are two suggestions to help us frugal North Americans shop and live greener. I hope this saves you some $$$. Cha-ching!





Frugal me – Frugal you? September 1, 2009

coupon_book[1] I discovered a website that offers coupons for natural and organic products!  It is called The Healthy Shopper and they produce an excellent coupon book in May with over $180 in savings that  is FREE and available in stores all across Canada. Unfortunately, it is so fantastic they disappear quickly. I have phoned every store here in Ottawa listed on the web site and they are out of stock.  There is good news though, you can register on line and receive e-coupons for household cleaning products, organic food, beverages and personal care products too. My recessive frugal gene kicks into high gear when I can get $1 off dish soap or organic almonds. Hey, every little bit helps. It is free to register, answer some questions then browse for coupons. It is an interesting site full of good information.  If you are on the fence about buying new organic or green products, a price reduction might encourage you to try them. It works for me!  I am off to clip some coupons…