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Is Buying “Cheap” Always Bad?

admin June 25, 2013

Last week, I read a post by The Healthy Home Economist about why buying coconut oil at Costco is bad.  It seems that someone had emailed her to ask if her coconut oil, which had an “off” smell, was truly bad and if so, why.  It just so happened that the woman had purchased Carrington Farms brand at Costco, which sells for around $15 per 54-oz. jar.  This is far cheaper than most other places, so based on the woman’s experience and the price alone, Sarah (the blogger behind The Healthy Home Economist) concluded that buying “cheap” was the problem.

Concerned, I immediately looked up the brand in question.  I haven’t bought it yet, but my coconut oil is almost gone and I had been thinking about doing so.  I wanted to know what I was getting into.

What I found was not what that post led me to believe…

Do Your Research

I found that, unfortunately, the original post had been rather poorly researched.  It appeared that when the email came in, it corroborated something the author already believed, so she simply wrote the post to warn everyone else, without looking into the matter further.

It is so important to do your research on anything and everything.  Even if you only spend 5 minutes searching google to see what others are saying (that’s really sufficient in a case like this, where we’re talking about a simple food item).  I did exactly that.

The company in question, Carrington Farms, produces virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil.  It is organic, unrefined, and free of BPA and hexane (a solvent used to extract oils sometimes).

One criticism levied against the company was that they labeled the product “extra virgin,” a term which doesn’t apply to coconut oil.  However, many of their packages (like the ones on Amazon) do not say this.  They simply say “virgin” (which does apply).  Many other companies also use the term “extra virgin” to refer to coconut oil, including Nutiva, Nature’s Way, Barlean’s, Jarrow Formula, Vitacost, Artisana, and more.  In fact, almost all the brands listed on Amazon — including ones that are known to be reputable — use this term.

The reasoning behind the use of “extra virgin” is that people are familiar with it from olive oil, and associate it with “top quality” oil.

Another criticism was that the company must use an inferior process, or cut the oil with other vegetable oils.  There is no evidence for this.  The company states that it is 100% unrefined virgin (or extra virgin) coconut oil.  There is no reason to believe it is anything else.  I checked several blogs and websites for reviews of the product and the only “negatives” I could find related to cost of the product in one place vs. another, and none had anything negative to say about the quality of the oil.  Not a single review mentioned any “off smells” or tastes in the oil.

It would be hard to add another oil to it because coconut oil is pretty unique.  It’s clear when liquid (most oils are yellowish), it’s white when solid, and it solidifies until it reaches 76, while other oils are liquid even while refrigerated.  The oil, if blended, would behave drastically differently.  If little shreds of coconut were left in the oil, this would be evident at the bottom of the jar — and I have seen no one mention this.

It is probably likely that this particular oil went “off” from having been in a very hot garage for several months, or perhaps it was an odd bad jar.  Regardless, it seems to be an isolated incident and certainly not worthy of warning people off the brand entirely!

Is Buying Cheap Always Bad?

Is “Cheap” An Indicator of Quality?

While price is generally correlated with quality, it is certainly not always the case!

Costco is known for being able to offer high-quality items for lower prices.  They can do this because they sell such a high volume.  I personally shop there every couple of weeks and can find excellent deals on fairly high-quality items.

In addition to the coconut oil (some Costcos sell Carrington Farms; some sell Nutiva; both appear to be good brands), they also carry Tillamook cheddar, which I recently learned is mostly grass-fed and raw (as raw as you’re going to get outside of small artisan cheesemakers, anyway), for only $3.35 – $5/lb. depending on style.  They have an imported raw Romano cheese as well, and Kerrygold butter.  These are just a few of my favorite items!

It’s true that Costco carries Kerrygold, for example, for around $4.50/lb., which is about what I pay for regular old organic butter (not grass-fed).  Any other store carries Kerrygold for $7 – $8/lb.  That doesn’t make Costco’s Kerrygold inferior; it means because of the volume they sell, I get a really good deal.

If you see an unusually cheap price on an item, go home and look it up.  See if it’s cheap because it’s lower quality or because it’s an awesome deal.  I haven’t yet found an item at Costco that I would otherwise consider that was low-quality.  (Now, they also sell plenty of items that are not “real food” that I wouldn’t consider, but we’re going to ignore those.)

Guilt Over Food Budgets

You know what?  We all have food budgets and we all have to be realistic.  Sometimes, we’re not going to be able to afford the absolute top quality.  Sometimes we need to go with “good enough.”

If Carrington Farms coconut oil is nothing but coconut oil, then perhaps the rest doesn’t matter.  I could pay $45 for a gallon, or $15 for just under 1/2 gal.  Guess what I’m going to do?  It’s still real coconut oil.  I don’t know the the quality isn’t the same.  And even if it’s not, my food dollars stretch further when I get food that’s “good enough” even if it’s not “perfect.”

We have enough guilt over what we feed our families and what we do with our dollars without needing to worry that what we can afford to buy from stores like Costco “isn’t good enough.”  I’m happy that I’m feeding my family coconut oil and Kerrygold butter instead of margarine and soybean oil!

Don’t feel guilty.  Don’t look at the price tag and think “this can’t possibly be good enough, I have to spend an arm and a leg to feed my family.”  Don’t get caught up in that silly nonsense about “pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later.”  While there’s some truth to it, we can’t feel guilty about what we can’t afford!  We live in the real world here, and any “real foods” are better than none, even if not perfectly sourced.

No guilt here, and go ahead — buy your coconut oil at Costco!  🙂

**EDIT: Some people are saying you should not buy Carrington farms because it is owned by one of the major food corporations that donated to stop GMO labeling in California last fall (prop 37).  I did some digging around to figure out what the truth is there, too.  Carrington Farms is based in New Jersey and is a privately owned company. Here is a list of all the companies and their subsidiaries and brand names that donated to the anti-GMO labeling laws, and Carrington Farms isn’t on it.  This one is false — Carrington Farms is not owned by a major company trying to stop GMO labeling.

What do you think — is cheap always bad?

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78 Comments

  1. I am on my second jar of this brand of Coconut oil from Costco and I’ve been really happy with the results. I use it for everything! Cooking, oil pulling, lotion, sunscreen, etc. My basic research before buying was reading the label and understanding their process. It’s totally clear when melted and does not have an off taste. I think it’s great that the big box stores like Costco are getting on board and I’ll support them with my dollars. They will get the point eventually. Maybe she just had an off jar or wasn’t too familiar with coconut oil.

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  2. Well said! Costco sells for those prices because the owner has an awesome business plan! I’ve been buying Vitacost since I live in the boonies and hate feeling guilty because I didn’t spend a fortune on it!

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  3. I read the article. it really does read a little snobby. But I think the concern that “It smells like burned marshmallows, or maybe the inside of a pumpkin on Halloween. Since I can’t find any web sites that describe the smell (other than “yucky” and “very, very bad”) for rancid coconut oil, could you please help me out? I can’t stand to put it on my face….but can I still cook with it?” I think the blogger did a great job of making sure this woman didn’t use a bad product! Coconut oil shouldn’t smell like that! Now as to the price… Well, there’s just no way of knowing if the amount of money put into it caused this product to go bad prematurely or if it was improperly handled after it was made. Or if, in fact, they didn’t make a good quality product. Yes I think it was an unfair assessment. But the concern over the specific reader’s question was valid.

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  4. Good job on researching this! I am going to go get a Costco membership and look into what “real food” I can buy there. Thanks!

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  5. This is a great post, Kate! I had not read that other article but there have been a few things from Healthy Home Economist that have bugged me over the last year. I appreciate an open view point! Thank you!

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  6. My family has been buyin coconut oil for years, we have tried many different brands. One of the more expensive brands we only bought once and nobody in the house liked it because it had a weird plasticky taste to it. We are on our third tub from Costco and we love it! It has the exact same consistency and flavour as the more pricy brands.
    As for quality, if it wasn’t as good it wouldn’t be just ass effective on sunburns, rashes, cuts/scrapes and other dermal issues that I use it for. It performs just as we’ll as the more pricey brands, without draining my wallet. And is that bad? Why should we have to pay twice as more for something to be sure it’s quality. In my families opinion, and many other people whome I know buy Charrington Farms brand, it’s fantastic and we’ll keep buying it.
    Thanks for posting this blog!

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  7. Thank you so much! I am weary of bloggers who know so much more than I do about a subject making me feel like I can’t possibly achieve their standards, which are the only right and holy standards. I’ve read so many that talk about the high price you have to pay if you want to be healthy and do right by your family. I appreciate finally being validated for my efforts.

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  8. Honestly, I think everything we read (including my own blog) should be read with the understanding that we are all human. Take it all in and use it like tools in a tool box. Use the tools that work for you and your family and the rest, well, take it with a grain of salt. I like this post, well done Katie! Sarah’s posts always make me think and bring awareness, I appreciate that too. There is A LOT of information out there,….find balance and do what you can. Thank you Katie!

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  9. I too live in TX and have used 3 jars of this coconut oil with no problem. I do keep in in my pantry and this time of year it is surely liquid. Before becoming a conscious eater I stored bulk oils in a garage pantry and had several go rancid, it’s just really hot here in the summer.

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  10. Thank you for sharing this article and doing research. We all make mistakes from storing something in the wrong spot to machine washing something that should have been hand washed or not dried in the dryer or grabbing the wrong herb or spice while cooking. Common sense would say not to store something that could become rancid in a hot garage and if it smells bad, why would eating it be better than putting it on your skin?? Sounds like someone hadn’t had their coffee yet before they wrote.

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  11. I buy the Carrington Farms organic Coconut oil from Costco and I LOVE it. I use it for cooking, baking and mixing in with smoothies and I use it in making lotions, deodorant and other homemade items. I think it is a very high quality product.

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  12. Yeah, I thought the article was a bit inflammatory. I think she plays to seo in order to get clicks but I think she did damage by not actually calling the company for this particular article. I’ve bought the same oil from Costco and its been fine. I wonder if the oil that smelled bad might have been contaminated by the user. Furthermore, it’s actually a myth that coconut oil never goes bad. I read an article awhile ago that says it has a long shelf life but like anything, it doesn’t last forever. My story: I accidentally left a jar of coconut oil from Costco at a relatives house and didn’t get it back until 6 months later. It had about 2 cups left in it and its fine as far as I can tell. (Incidentally, the inflammatory tone is the reason why I no longer follow dr. Mercola and natural news. I don’t like feeling upset and guilty every single day.)

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    • Agreed! There are a couple real food bloggers whose main goal is to increase blog traffic. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, but it’s good to be aware as a reader. And while I don’t regularly read HHE (or Cheeseslave for that matter) because I don’t prefer the inflammatory tone, I do find both sites extremely helpful when I need to learn a new real food technique. Moderation is key…

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  13. I use both. There’s a time and a place for the best quality coconut oil and we should try to have that in our diets daily, IMO, but for cooking? Does the highest quality stuff matter? I don’t think so. Use what you can afford.

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  14. Thank you for writing this. I often feel guilty over not having the budget to buy things like grass-fed butter, raw milk, or organic vegetables. As it is, my hubby and I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, very little meat (since it’s expensive anyway and I don’t want us eating a lot of meat that’s not grass-fed), and pasta, potatoes, and baked goods that I make myself (with non-GMO, organic flour). We eat this way because it’s what we can afford to buy. Thank you for this reminder that I don’t have to feel guilty about it–because usually that guilt is self-imposed! I can feel good about the fact that we eat almost no processed food, and that I keep our grocery budget to a little over $200 a month for the two of us.

    By the way, I buy my coconut oil from Vitacost, and pay about $20 for a 54-oz jar (10 oz less than a gallon). I LOVE it. If you’re looking for the kind of coconut oil that does not smell or taste coconutty, then don’t get Vitacost’s, because it’s so NOT processed that it retains that wonderful scent and flavor, which I really love! 🙂

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  15. Great post Kate! I totally agree that we need to be good stewards of our grocery money and buy the best we can afford for our families. I too have been using Carrington Farms coconut oil and find it comparable to the more expensive brand I was purchasing.

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  16. Thank you for this. I read that article and was concerned but did think that it read more like it was the lady’s opinion. I like to say that we always have to be content in God’s providence and that sometimes means we make do with the budget we have and not keep wishing that we could do some of the things that others are espousing as vital. There are a lot of people surviving in the world on very little.

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  17. Kate,

    Thanks for writing this article. I too bought that 1/2 gallon of coconut oil. It was such a great deal! I haven’t opened mine, but when I do, I will let you know. But the reason I am thanking you was because I was beginning to feel like I needed to return it unopened to the store. Because of the guilt. You see, this was the first time my Costco has carried coconut oil. And I didn’t want to spoil it for other consumers or for the future me. I normally have to pester them on a weekly basis to get Kerrygold in stock. They say there isn’t a demand for that and coconut oil. But at least they have plenty of nuts and fruits and veggies we can buy. Still working on them to get grass-fed beef. Seriously, your article made me feel better about not being able to budget for the highest tier of foods. Thank you thank you thank you.

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  18. Thank you for writing this. I can understand the original poster person wanting to help and all, however that does not make them a subject matter expert. If you are going to be speaking so disparagingly about a product, then you should do a little research about the product itself. I appreciate the warnings on quality, but I agree she should have looked into it a little further before writing it off completely. I really enjoyed this article and thank you for writing it. I appreciate the truths presented. 🙂

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  19. I use it for cooking and cosmetics. For some reason, it is not my favorite coconut oil but the price is right. I said i wouldn’t buy a second jar but just did. I keep another better jar around as well for special things.

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  20. I can vouch for the coconut oil at Costco (both Carrington Farms and Nutiva) as being high quality and low price! I’ve been using either brand (whichever I find) and love them both. I’ve never experienced either going rancid or any flakes/chunks. Thanks for touching on this.

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  21. Well, I have to say I have used this brand and I had an experience with it turning yellow and rancid as it got closer to the bottom. I bought more and didn’t have the same problem, so maybe it was just a bad batch? I kind of questioned it myself because it is so much cheaper than other brands out there right now, so I sent a message to the company asking about their Fair Trade practices. They couldn’t really give me much info other than to say the following: “Our coconut oil originates from the Philippines. All of our coconuts come from organic certified farms and are processed within roughly four hours of picking them. While we are not fair trade certified, we have social audits done to assure the farms and processor are socially responsible. Thanks for the question!” Not sure how they define *social audits* but to me that leaves a lot up to interpretation and could be the reason for the cheaper cost. Just my .02!

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  22. No complaints about coconut oil from Costco here! It seems identical to what I’ve purchased from Vitacost before, and the price is right.

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  23. I use and love the Carrington Farms brand. It meets all my criteria for healthy, real food. While I agree that finding the ‘best’ deal isn’t necessarily the most small-business friendly, this is a good quality product that I feel good feeding my family. Cheaper does not always mean less quality.

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  24. THANK YOU!! I LOVE the Carrington Farms coconut oil from Costcol, and I’m thrilled that it’s affordable enough that I can use it for whatever I want. At the higher prices you pay elsewhere, there’s no way I’d use it as much and as often as I do.

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  25. Thank yor for your research. I really appreciate it!

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  26. I love you, Kate. Just wanted to say that. 🙂

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  27. I read the same article the other day. You summed up exactly how I feel. Thanks for doing a little research and sharing your perspective. Many of us just don’t have the budget to eat perfectly and have to find ways to eat as well as we possibly can with what we have. I appreciate many of the real food choices Costco carries, and am grateful for how this store enables me to have a few food choices I would not otherwise be able to afford.

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  28. I buy the Carrington Farms brand Coconut oil at Costco and it is very high quality for the price. I love it!

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  29. Well, a refreshing breath of common sense! Thanks. 🙂

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  30. Absolutely love this post, Kate! I agree wholeheartedly!

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  31. Thank you for this post. I was upset with Sarah’s stance on breastfeeding she yet again I find her very elitist views to be beyond appalling. It’s almost as tho she feels that only a certain class of person should be healthy and I find that very sad.

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  32. Kate thank you so much for writing this! I read that other post and have 2 jars of that oil in my house currently and use it predominately. I know deep down it is fine, works great, smells great, tastes great, but that post had me questioning myself and I started getting a little panicked. Thank you for rocking my boat back to the middle.

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  33. Thanks so much for this post! I had read that other blog post to and it worried me. Thanks for putting my fears to rest! Love me so some coconut oil!!

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  34. I’m on my 2nd jar of Carrington Farms coconut oil from Costco & LOVE it; it smells great & at such a reasonable price I can use it as a body lotion liberally!

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  35. wow…just love your insight Very much needed in this “real food world” of blogging .. Thank you!

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  36. I don’t read that other blog anymore, but a friend told me about the post and asked what I thought. I have bought several jars of the Carrington Farms coconut oil at Costco, and my sister has too — we are so happy to be able to purchase this wonderful coconut oil at such a great price. It’s pure coconut oil, which is clear to anyone who uses coconut oil regularly for years — the melt temp, flavor, texture, etc. We love it. And honestly, it tastes and smells better than some much pricier WFN coconut oil I bought in a five gallon bucket previously. So weird that someone would warn people not to buy this oil base dons some random person’s experience with oil left in a hot garage under who knows what conditions. Thank you for your sane reply!

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  37. thanks ladies. Wondering if the Carrington coconut oil is in plastic or glass jars? Really hard to tell or find that out online, and I don’t live near a Costco. Thanks!

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  38. The Carrington coconut oil is in plastic jars.

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  39. I totally agree! I have this dilemma often when it comes to organics. I find myself buying processed foods rather than produce just because I can’t afford to buy all of that produce organic. Well, even non-organic whole food is going to be better than something processed!

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  40. I had a similar situation with essential oils…an area where I KNOW quality is of the utmost importance. When I discovered that Mountain Rose Herbs had much cheaper prices than the other well known EO companies, I felt like it had to mean that they were poor quality. However, after researching the matter, which included emailing back and forth with the company several times, I found that this was not the case (and learned a lot about essential oils in the process!). I think sometimes, although definitely not always, a company’s business practices can go a long way in determining the cost of their products.

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  41. None of the Tillamook cheeses are truly raw. Some are heat-shocked and some are pasteurized.
    http://www.tillamook.com/faqs.html#faq63

    Many of the herds are out to pasture when the weather permits.
    http://www.tillamook.com/faqs.html#faq52

    They are also fed corn (could be GMO corn since they are not organic)
    http://www.tillamook.com/faqs.html#faq53
    http://www.tillamook.com/faqs.html#faq50

    Hilltop Meadow Farm (listed in the Weston A. Price Foundation’s Shopping Guide) sells 100% grass-fed organic truly raw cheese starting at only $5/lb. thru mail order. I order from them. There are many sources listed in the shopping guide. Homestead Heritage Cheese is another source with similar quality and prices.

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    • True about not truly raw — but the vast majority of cheese in the store that’s labeled raw isn’t raw. “Heat shocked” is a bit better than pasteurized. And I know it’s not entirely grass-fed, but it’s better, again, than most. 🙂

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  42. I agree with all the other posters, thank you so much for offering your views of this great coconut oil. I’m on my second jar and I love it. After reading the other blogger’s piece I went to the pantry to sniff mine – it did have a slightly marshmallowy smell to it, but not in a bad way at all. In fact, it was much tastier smelling than the melted-crayon smell I got from one the more expensive brands that the blogger recommends.

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  43. Thanks for your balanced view instead of an extremist take.

    My coconut oil from Costco is the nutiva. Smells just like the more expensive coconut oil I’ve bought, but a lot better on my wallet!

    (And I didn’t realize that Tillamook was mostly grass fed – thanks for that !)

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  44. Clearly this other blogger hasn’t come across Stacy Makes Cents 🙂 Great post, glad I read it! My family and I just moved from a high-cost state to a very low-cost one. The same coconut oil I can buy for around $25 in New York runs me around $18 in Virginia! Dollars are a useless unit of measure for quality. I pay through the nose for my government, what does that tell you? :p

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  45. Thank you for writing this post. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I was completely put off by the post at thehealthyhomeeconomist. Poorly written, poorly researched, and loaded with poorly disclosed affiliate links.

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  46. Thank you for posting this! I read part of the article but unfortunately I didn’t finish it because it felt a bit “passing blind judgement” on something with no real stuff to back it up. To say that buying coconut oil at Costco is bad, is kind of like throwing sand in someone’s eyes. I would think that most who shop at Costco for organic foods are trying to work with their limited budgets to buy better food for their families. To say that their efforts are a mistake is pretty sad and disheartening. Lacking the funds to buy organic is a common reason and excuse to not buy healthy foods. Thank you for encouraging people to not believe all they read on this issue. People don’t need another excuse to not live better.

    I buy the “good” stuff at Costco routinely. My Costco sells Nutiva. They also sell tons of other organic stuff like fresh organic produce, frozen produce, and juices. They even have ton’s of organic canned goods, cereals, pasta’s, peanut butter, etc. I save a lot of money by shopping for this stuff there and I have never had issues with quality. Actually a lot of the products seem to be of better quality…like the produce. I assume that’s the case because of high turnover of their products.

    I shop for my coconut oil on Vitacost too. I go to Ebates.com first than click on the vitacost link and save even more. I stock up when they have very good deals on this stuff. It doesn’t expire for a long time so stock it up when it’s cheap. To spend more on a product just because it might be of better quality seems wasteful…especially when it’s based on an empty opinion.

    Just my 2 cents…

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  47. I like what you are trying to say but was really turned off by how judgemental you sounded of that Sarah girl. I actually went back and reread what you wrote. Everyone makes mistakes and instead of being quick to point out her mistake publicly it would have been nicer to maybe contact her and have her digg a little deeper. Its kind of weird because your last post that I read was about judgements. To someone who does not read either blogs much this sounded like you are using her mistake to make sure people stay and read your blog instead of hers.

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    • I’m sorry you felt that way, but that’s not true at all.

      Sarah chose to criticize a brand of coconut oil and a store with no evidence to back her up. When multiple (dozens) of readers called her on it, she absolutely refused to concede she was wrong. This is hardly the first time this has happened, either — she sells controversy and does it well and often. That’s her style, and that’s fine. She stated things like “I don’t need to do research to know something is a poor quality oil” (in the comments section).

      As she is a very popular blogger (far bigger than I am, with something like a million monthly pageviews), a lot of people are going to read what she wrote and believe it and feel guilty about their food choices. That’s professionally irresponsible, in my opinion.

      I am not criticizing or judging her as a person. I didn’t say anything to insult her, and I won’t. But if she is spreading misinformation, I will correct it. That’s professional, not personal. There is a big difference. I would expect if I stated something clearly false that someone would bring that to my attention!

      I think it’s sad — especially with the many comments here thanking me for the information and for making them feel less guilty about buying what they can afford — that you would think I am petty enough to write this just to get more people to read my blog! I pondered this very carefully but with the extreme reaction from commenters, the amount of concern and guilt over food choices, and Sarah’s absolute refusal to accept questions or concerns from her readers, I chose to go ahead. I invite you to go back and read her blog, read the comments, and maybe then you will understand.

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    • Did you read Sarah’s post and the over 400 comments on it? I read the post and thoroughly skimmed the comments. What upset me was not that Sarah made a mistake but that she insisted on sticking to her conclusion in the face of evidence and continued flinging unproven accusations at Carrington Farms in multiple comments.

      It is entirely possible that an otherwise responsible food company would have one jar or a small batch of product contaminated or with a flaw in the packaging that allowed a contaminant to get in. It’s also possible that the consumer who emailed Sarah about the oil had accidentally contaminated it herself. None of these makes the food company a bad company with a bad product! Yet Sarah jumped to that conclusion AND STUCK TO IT as many people pointed out how likely it was that she was mistaken. Seeing that she does affiliate sales of another brand of coconut oil makes me skeptical about her objectivity.

      Nice post, Kate! Thanks for speaking up on this issue.

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    • You wouldn’t feel bad for Sarah Pope is you spent any time at all at her blog. She uses inflammatory language and pronounces unwarranted harsh judgements on whoever she’s sees fit to at any time – without reservation. I’m not normally someone who’s particularly sensitive and wouldn’t care, but I am always trying to send friends/family to good blogs to educate them and I’ve made the mistake of sending them there before. It’s been embarrassing for them to report back to me how rude the blogger was to them. Happened more than once. Never again. How the WAPF invited her to be a member of the board is beyond me. Such a shame.

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  48. I also felt the way you did about the other post. Our Costco carries Nutiva. The only difference is that it is sold in the plastic jar vs. the glass jar which you would get at a health food store. For about the same price you can buy the Nutiva brand in the health food store ON SALE, I get twice the amount from Costco! I also think it tastes wonderful (but some of my children don’t care for the taste quite yet…I’m working on that!)

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  49. I’m really glad to hear that you are clarifying the information of other bloggers. I have seen a lot of misinformation lately, especially bloggers posting pure opinion because they want to believe it. I’ve seen the Costco Coconut Oil, but just recently I have seen bloggers posting that white rice is better . . . because they want to eat it. They justify what they want to believe rather than starting with an unbiased opinion and seeking the truth. Thanks for digging a little deeper.

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  50. Thank you for the well written post. I actually stopped following the healthy home economist because I was tired of feeling beat up for not doing better. Appreciate posts like yours that applaud the efforts we make to feed our families real food and don’t knock us down for not doing more than is realistic/affordable

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  51. Hi Kate,

    great article! thanks for clearing that up. is the kerrygold butter at costco grass-fed?

    tyron

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  52. is there something wrong with my comment from June 26? it is still awaiting moderation.

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  53. Thanks so much for sharing! I have just started using Carrington Farms, and I appreciate all the research you put into this topic. 🙂

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  54. […] Is Buying "Cheap" Always Bad? @ Modern Alternative Mama […]

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  55. I’m very glad you did the extra research, and I totally agree that we need to take into consideration the bulk buying discounts that big stores can achieve. One thing that concerns me about finding something that is cheap is food fraud–it’s possible that even if the original company is reputable, this particular food didn’t come from the original company. It seems it’s more widespread than I wanted to believe:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/27/business/food-fraud-more-widespread-than-suspected.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    I wish I had some solution, since I can’t visit the farmer who produces my coconut oil…

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  56. What stood out most glaringly to me in the original article by Sarah was her repeated quotes from “a friend who makes really good coconut oil”. Real journalists name their sources (i.e. “Bob Smith, owner of Acme Coconut Oil company, who has been producing coconut oil for 10 years, says that you can tell a good oil by…”) or admit their bias (i.e. “Many smaller coconut oil producers – like Acme brand, which advertises on this site from time to time – don’t like that the big box stores like Costco have started selling coconut oil because they simply can’t compete with the low prices”).

    Sarah does neither of these things, which left me with the impression that the whole piece was just an attempt to discredit Carrington Farms.

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  57. Thanks, I read the same article and got worried, but continued to use my Carrington Farms. I’ve bought it over 3 times now at Costco and don’t see what the problem is. To me it’s quality and just like Nutiva or Dr. Bronner’s, the other two brands I’ve bought from Whole Foods. I read your article and am glad you shared this!

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  58. I saw the title of her article last week & refused to click on it. It makes me feel pretty frustrated when everyone gets snobby and starts screaming over foods that are just fine. I’ve used Costco CO and it passes all the standards hands down. There are several other things that are the same. Sarah can get inflammatory and seems to write on a whim at times, as if she was just looking for a way to make drama where there is none. Either way I lost a lot of respect for her opinion after her recent rants against breastfeeding women.

    Glad to see others saw that article for what it was, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit that she did no research before posting that article.

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  59. Kate, thanks so much for dispelling the incorrect info put out there by the healthy home economist blog. I am writing as one of the owners of Carrington Co., LLC, owner of the brand Carrington Farms. All the info you listed is correct concerning our Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil and I appreciate you taking the time to research it. One correction, however, is that we are not a New Zealand company. Carrington Co., LLC is a privately held company with our office based in NJ. We do not contribute to any GMO labeling companies and all our products under the Carrington Farms brand are NON GMO. If you have any questions at all regarding our coconut oil or any other of our products, please feel free to reach out. In addition, on a personal note, as a mom trying to make ends meet and do the best for my family, i applaud your insight. Thanks!

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  60. Thank you so much for writing this article! I often have to choose which quality items I can afford each month and have been using less costly brands of coconut oil without any problems. This information helped alleviate much stress and guilt!! Thanks for all you do!

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  61. I’m glad to see someone making an effort to correct the mistakes of an irresponsible blogger. I hope that the people that follow Sarah’s blog will recognize that article for what it is (libel) and it will have the opposite of the intended affect by turning into free publicity for Carrington Farms 🙂

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  62. One of the main reasons why I spend more for coconut oil is to ensure that it is made from fresh coconut meat (rather than from Copra which is naturally dried coconut meat that becomes slightly rancid as it is air dried or smoke dried) and remain raw (not being exposed to temperatures higher than 104 degrees F). Kate, do you know if Carrington Farms Coconut Oil is heated to high temps and if its made from fresh coconut or not?

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    • Haha. Okay. I just read Debbie’s post on Sarah’s site and she says that they do use raw fresh coconut meat for their oil. I think I need to plan my first trip to Costco soon! Thanks so much for this information, Kate! Cheap price does not equal cheap oil!

      Reply

  63. I have purchased this coconut oil (carrington) and many other Costco brand “real food” items, (like organic humane eggs, Himalayan pink salt, various organic meats)…and I’ve been very impressed (especially when you consider the prices). I honestly think they’ve stepped up to offer more “real food” because they are listening to their customer base. 😉

    I also like that you’ve touched on that we don’t need to beat ourselves up for not being perfect or affording the best. Every family is different! 🙂

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  64. Great article. I sometimes beat myself up over not being completely organic, so its nice to hear someone else say good enough sometimes is just that, good enough! 🙂 Thank you!

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  65. has anyone tried this coconut oil? my sister just found this at Costco for $23.99 (2 – 42.3 oz jars).

    here it is on Amazon for $39.99
    http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Coconut-Oil-Kirkland-Certified/dp/B00J163K8I/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1395460018&sr=8-3&keywords=kirkland+coconut+oil

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  66. Thanks for the info! I just moved and Carrington Farms is what I found at the grocery store. I have used other brands but have no complaints about this one and the price is affordable!

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  67. It’s all about perspective. I buy lots of generic and generally buy “whatever is cheapest”. Sometimes the budget won’t let it happen any other way. I cannot fathom paying $4.50/lb. for butter!! I pay $2.29/lb for the store brand butter. Margarine is 94 cents but I refuse to go there 🙂 I have actually found many generic/store brand items that have less added junk and fewer artificial ingredients than name brands. Some examples include bread, dry goods, and frozen veggies. I find that the quality and taste are really not that much different, sometimes the cheaper product tastes better. I rarely buy anything organic because the cost difference is pretty significant around here, especially with produce and dairy. Non-organic produce is better than none at all. I buy Costco’s brand of laundry soap for $13 and one container lasts about 3 months. Cheaper than every single name brand AND cheaper than making my own. I buy all my meat at Costco too, much cheaper than the grocery store or buying from a farmer. I looked into buying from a farmer, but I would be spending $400-500 more per year for the same amount of meat, and the organic/grass fed/pastured options were much more! I use olive oil instead of coconut oil because it is about half the cost. I quit making homemade bread because the ingredients to make bread were costing me $30-35 a month more that a store bought loaf of bread (plus the time!). As the kids grow and eat more, and the cost of food continues to rise, I need to constantly shift the budget around to keep food in the house! So no, I do not think that cheap is always bad.

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  68. […] In 2011 and 2012, I began to run into more and more issues.  WAPF leaders attacked a brand of coconut oil with nothing more than a letter from a woman who had found small brown bits at the bottom of her jar…that had been left sitting in a hot garage in Texas for months.  This single example plus its lower price led a WAPF leader to attack the brand is being clearly bad and rancid.  (See that story.) […]

    Reply

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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