Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Affordable Organic

While "affordable organic" may sound like an oxymoron, there are a few ways to still be able to eat organically and not break the bank.  Of course, it may require a little more effort and creativity, but many people feel the payoff is worth it.  Here are some ideas that may help a little: 

1.  Figure out which supermarket in your area has the best prices.  Often times, while their organic selection may be a bit more limited than other places, it will also be less expensive.  This may mean you end up shopping at more than one store to get the variety you are seeking.

2.  Use the Clean 15/Dirty Dozen rule for produce and buy only the dirty dozen in organic form.  If you're not familiar with this, the "Clean 15" is a list of 15 top produce items with the least amount of pesticides, while the "Dirty Dozen" is the opposite; A list of produce that have the most pesticides.  Here is a handy pdf from the Environmental Working Group that you can keep with you while you do your shopping.  Grocery stores seem very attuned to this rule, as you will often see that most items on the Dirty Dozen list are more available in organic form.

3.  Buy what's in seasonIn-season fruits and vegetables (including organic) are less expensive than non-seasonal.  

4.  Look for frozen or canned.  Frozen and canned produce are less expensive than fresh and also available in organic form.  Check the health food section of your supermarket for things like organic canned tomatoes and  check the health food freezer section for things like organic frozen berries, vegetables and even meats. Not to mention, often times you can find coupons for packaged foods, so be on the lookout!

5.  Attend your local Farmers' Market.  Yes, sometimes foods will be more expensive at the Farmers' Market, but not all the time.  It is definitely worth exploring to see what is offered and what their prices are.  You can find deals, especially if a farmer has an overabundance of something and needs to get rid of it.  Farmers' Markets are not just for fruits and veggies either.  Often times you will find locally-grown meats and things like canned produce, jams, jellies, fresh cut flowers, yummy baked goods and even home-made dog treats! Well worth the weekly trip! 

6.  Pick Your OwnExplore your local organic farms for "PYO" opportunities.  Many berries are available this way, as well as tree fruits (apples, pears, peaches).  It's less expensive because you're not paying for the labor of harvesting.  :)

7.  Grow your own!  Stay tuned for a near-future blog post on growing your own vegetable garden.  You can honestly grow vegetables almost anywhere, as long as you have a bit of sunny space outside (even if it's just a window box).  You can also buy organic seeds or seedlings as well as organic soil. 

A single week's fruits and vegetables from com...
A single week's fruits and vegetables from community-supported agriculture share: peppers, okra, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, garlic, eggplant, squash.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
8.  Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group or Co-op.  With a CSA, you buy a "share" of a farm's produce and usually receive a weekly box of whatever vegetables they are harvesting at that given time.  Some will give you a reduced rate if you are willing to work on the farm for a certain number of hours per week.  A co-op is essentially the same thing but may have more than one farm contributing.  Co-ops also will often order other popular grocery items at whole-sale prices that members agree upon and divy up the cost.   Here is a fabulous web site where you can find CSAs, Co-ops and Farmers Markets in your area!

So, while some of these ideas may not save a whole lot of money, they may save a little and it will add up.  Not to mention, a lot of these ideas involve buying locally and supporting your local economy.  Beneficial in more ways than one!
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