Regardless of the benefits of eating organic, the availability and price sometimes leaves us with little or no option. Though most people I know say they’d rather eat organic, it often comes down to affordability, and unfortunately the initial cost of organic compared to non-organic can be significant. However, there are ways that can help you save a few bucks on organic food, not only making it affordable but sometimes even cheaper. Here are my top 10 tips for keeping organic on budget.
Buy food that’s in season.
This is when an item is most in abundance; so not only will this help lower the price, but the naturally occurring flavors will be at their best and so will their vitamins and minerals.
Buy food that’s local.
Local food does not have to travel as far compared to some of the imported items, and sometimes when you actually buy from the farm there are options like “pick your own berries” which ends up costing less than if they were pre-picked. What a better way to get some fresh air, vitamin D from the sun and spend time with friends and loved ones.
Make friends with the farmers.
Farmer markets can be a great way to get local and in season produce, and it’s a good opportunity to talk with the people growing the food. Did you know that some of these farms may be organic but they’re not certified organic because they can’t afford the certification? Don’t pass up an item because it doesn’t have that fancy sticker, ask them. It’s also a great way to get more involved, though many farmers at these markets are organic some might not be and it then becomes a good opportunity to approach them to voice (in a friendly loving way) your concerns and let them know why organic is important to you.
Start your own garden.
There’s a vast amount of information on the internet about starting up a garden regardless of whether you live in an apartment or have access to a yard. Not only do you get to enjoy the fruits of your own labor, its added exercise and can be a great way to reduce stress. There are also garden shares in some cities, or perhaps you have a friend that wouldn’t mind sharing their yard with you.
Join a Share.
Depending on where you live, there are shares you can join where for a certain fixed amount of money you get organic produce delivered to your door. This is a great way to be more in tune with eating seasonally but it also might introduce you to some new veggies. Some even have the option of being able to opt out of foods you may not enjoy if that’s a concern.
Check out the flyers.
Don’t be afraid to shop around, you might get the best deals in some of the most unexpected places.
The dirty dozen.
EWG (Environmental Working Group) puts out a list every year with the produce you should buy organic, due to the heavy use of pesticides/residues on those items, and a list of produce that are considered safe to buy conventionally. This is a great starting point, especially if on a tight budget, to know where you can save and splurge.
Buy in Bulk.
A lot of the time the items in bulk are cheaper than the pre-packaged counterparts, and some big box warehouse grocery stores are even adding more organic food items to their shelves. There are also online businesses where you can purchase bulk orders on things like organic nuts, seeds & dried fruit, which can help save a lot of bucks in the end.
Select Nutrient Dense Foods.
Items like broccoli, carrots, kale, cabbage, apples, bananas, etc, can make a good base for meals like smoothies, soups and salads. These items tend to be on the cheaper side, and since they can be pretty filling in themselves they can be great items to stock up on.
Buy foods in their whole form.
As convenient as prepackaged foods and canned items may be, you’ll save a lot in the long run by buying food in its whole form. Not only will you help reduce waste (less plastics) you’ll be avoiding things like BPA and xeno-estrogen (a synthetic estrogen that’s found in plastics). It might mean a little more work at first, but then you’ll probably be more inclined to not waste the food and save some for later, and once you get the hang of it, it’s really not a time sucker. If time is a concern consider prepping the materials or making a base once or twice a week that you can add items to throughout the week (thing like quinoa, lentils, beans, soups and lettuce mixes will keep well if stored properly). The best part is that you’ll be enjoying fresh food made by you and you’ll know exactly what’s in it and what isn’t.
Dirty Dozen: http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary/ Xeno-Estrogens: http://www.energeticnutrition.com/vitalzym/xeno_phyto_estrogens.html
Do you have any tips for saving on organic foods?
Leave your ideas in a comment below!!!
Alison Klektau is currently a student at The Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Vancouver where she is studying to earn her certification as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. It is her passion to educate others on the power of eating a plant-based whole foods diet while incorporating regular exercise, as she believes in a mind-body approach. Previous to that, Alison earned her BFA in Theatre and Film Studies from the University of Victoria.