10 Ways to Eat Organic on a Tight Budget

Most of us know organic food is best, but some of us are discouraged by the cost

How to Eat Organic on a Tight Budget
There are good and bad reasons why organic food is sometimes – but not always – more expensive than conventional food.

One bad reason is that even if costs are equal, the greed factor dictates a premium price for organic – just because it’s organic.

It makes no sense, I know, especially when you consider that 100 years ago, ALL food was organic by default.

One good reason for higher prices is that the demand for organic food is greater than the supply, mainly because it’s harder for organic growers to get established and to process and distribute their products.

But that’s changing as demand for organic food keeps increasing. Organic agriculture is the fastest growing segment of the economy. Let’s keep it growing.

10 Ways to Eat Organic on a Tight Budget

1. Make Organic Food a Priority: The real bottom line: If you don’t want poisons or gmos in your food, then get educated and commit to eating organic as much as possible. Read What is Organic Food and Why Should We Eat It?

2. Pick Your Battles: Go first for the foods that are most important to eat organic. Consult the EWG dirty dozen and clean fifteen lists of fruits & veggies with the most and least pesticide and herbicide residues. Nuts, seeds, grains and beans are less likely to have chemical residues, so go for the organic apples before the organic almonds. ALWAYS eat organic corn and soy foods to avoid gmos

3. Buy Local and Seasonal: That means shopping at farmer’s markets, joining a CSA or buying club, picking your own at local farms and orchards, visiting farm stands, ethnic markets, watching out for seasonal organic bargains in grocery stores.

4. Grow Your Own: Not everybody can keep a garden, but many of us can grow part of our food if we exercise our ingenuity, and put some time and effort into it. Besides, gardening is good for the soul. You can’t have a problem when your hands are in the dirt because it’s grounding.

5. Shop Around: Walmart, Costco, Payless, WinCo and other big box discount grocery stores all stock some organic food. Look for that first, compare the cost, see which list it’s on, juggle your budget and your grocery list to fit it in. Don’t forget to check the frozen aisle!

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6. Push the Boundaries: It’s expensive for farmers to go certified organic, and it’s not subsidized by the gov’t. Sometimes local produce is organically grown but not certified. Sometimes the chemical input is very minimal, as for example with many small fruit growers. You must know and trust the grower, but don’t be afraid to make allowances to get good deals.

7. Eat Low on the Food Chain: If you’re not paying for animal foods and processed foods, that leaves more money for organic fruits and veggies. Non-organic GMO corn and soy are in many processed foods as preservatives, flavorings, protein and sweeteners, and may not be obvious on labels.

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8. Time is Money: It’s much cheaper and more nutritious to cook your own food, even though it takes more time and effort. It will leave much more room in your budget for organic produce. If you go for preserving food in season by canning, freezing and dehydrating, you can save a bundle.

9. Demand Organic: Let your grocers know that you want organic produce and that you expect the price to be reasonable. Tell your senators and congress people you want them to support organic agriculture.

10. Strength in Numbers: Encourage others to eat organic. Tell your family and friends about organic food, and how you benefit from eating it. Pass along the great organic bargains you find. Serve organic food to your guests and tell them about it. Don’t miss an opportunity to gas about organic. Vote with your fork!

Read What is Organic Food and Why Should We Eat It?

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4 Responses to “10 Ways to Eat Organic on a Tight Budget”

  1. Savvy Veg says:

    As far as I can see, that’s a mistake, which I hope they will correct. Thanks for the heads up – I’ll pass it along to the EWG. Until recently sweet corn was not gmo, but that changed last summer, and it seems likely that most sweet corn in this country will soon be gmo. One characteristic of gmo sweet corn is that it doesn’t lose it’s sweetness and tenderness after it’s picked, like traditional varieties do, so that makes it a more commercially viable crop. Buy corn from small local growers, preferably certified organic, and ask them what kind of seed they use and how close to gmo corn it’s grown (corn is wind pollinated so it cross pollinates very easily).

  2. BanrionTine says:

    Why is corn, which is usually GMO, in the Clean 15?

  3. Savvy Veg says:

    Well, yes, but that’s ok. I also buy locally grown peppers when they’re plentiful and cheap at the farmer’s market in the summer. I buy organic whenever I can get a good deal. Otherwise, I live without peppers, since they’re one of the Dirty Dozen.

  4. Heather says:

    One thing that has always been unclear for me, is whether or not hydroponically grown goods are any safer than conventionally (non-organic) grown. In my area, many homegrown veggies, like sweet peppers are only available for a very short window. Organic options are available year-round in my grocery store, but the cost is extreme (sometimes almost $5 for one pepper). For that same price, I can get a bag of six hydroponically grown peppers. Am I kidding myself to think this might be a satisfactory compromise?

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