Consumers, for the most part, are aware of the benefits of consuming organic foods, including a reduced chance of ingesting toxic chemicals and pesticides. The problem is that many organic products come at a steep price. It can be challenging to integrate more than a few organic foods into your diet, but with some creative planning, it is possible to eat organic on a budget.
Buy produce in season. Indulging cravings for organic strawberries in winter or organic melon year-round comes with a hefty price tag and most of your money goes to the fuel to ship the produce to you. Purchasing seasonally and locally results in better quality, fresher and more delicious foods that often supports community and small farms.
Buy organic whole foods in bulk. It is far more costly to buy a frozen prepared organic pizza than it is to buy the ingredients separately and assemble your own. Organic cereals, crackers and snack foods are much more costly than the whole grains, beans, seeds and dried fruits available in the bulk bins. Shift your perspective and aim to make organic fruits and vegetables the centerpieces, rather than the side dishes, of the meal. Buying in bulk has the added benefit of reducing the amount of wasteful packaging you purchase.
Join a local organic food organization. This may be a natural foods co-op that offers discounted prices for its members who volunteer. Or it may be an organic delivery service that buys straight from farmers. Some neighborhoods have a shared community garden where members enjoy the fruits of their labor. Some enterprising local farmers have instituted a program where people buy a share or membership with the farm in exchange for seasonal produce.
Broaden your definition of what qualifies as organic. Talk to local farmers at neighborhood markets to get the inside scoop on who may be employing many organic farming practices without labeling their produce as officially organic. Many small farms use ecological practices but cannot afford the long and expensive process to procure the official certification.
Choose your battles. Some products are far safer or more nutritional in their organic forms. For example, grapes and bell peppers both have thin skins that absorb pesticides easily, so going organic is wise. Apples, spinach, potatoes, nectarines, peaches and coffee also contain high concentrations of chemical residue and pesticides.
- Do not reject big box stores outright. Costco and Sam’s Club have begun selling organic products.