I have been an advocate for eating as many organic foods as you possibly can afford. I believe it is not only better for your body; it is better for the environment.
But let’s face it, organic food is not cheap. I have seen the prices of many organic products come down in price as they are more widely sold, but their counter products can still be purchased for less.
Here are some tips save money on organic food and how to find organic products cheaper.
Why eat organic food?
You can save money and eat organic. But first, let’s go into the organic movement a little further.
The word organic refers to how the product is grown and produced. Organic produce must be grown with natural fertilizers like manure and not synthetic or chemical fertilizers.
The weeds have to be controlled naturally through things like hand weeding, crop rotation, and mulching. No chemical herbicides like Round Up are used. Pests are controlled by natural methods like birds and other bugs.
The animals that give us organic meat, dairy, and eggs have to be fed organic, hormone free, and GMO-free feed. They are not given growth hormones.
Diseases are prevented with more natural methods such as a clean environment and a healthy diet instead of antibiotics given every day as preventative measures. The animals must have access to the outside.
Benefits of organic food
These foods do not contain any of the chemicals and toxins that are unhealthy for humans to consume. Studies have shown that certain cancers have a direct link to pesticides.
There is also the theory that pesticides have a direct correlation to congenital disabilities like developmental delays, autism, and behavior disorders
Pregnant women should stay away from nonorganic foods because of these correlations.
How to save money on organic food
Organic food can cost more money. To eat healthy overall really doesn’t cost that much more if done strategically. We have been leaning toward organic foods for years.
If you cut back in other areas, eating organic can be done within the budget. There are certain things I try hard to purchase strictly organic but to save some money; there are things that you can buy that don’t need to be so.
Organic simply means that the food has been produced without toxic chemicals, pesticides, and without being genetically modified.
There is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables that are a must for eating organic due to their porous surfaces. These are called the Dirty Dozen.
And then there is a list of fruits and vegetables called the Clean 15 which are safe to eat conventional because of their thicker skin or repulsive taste to bugs.
This list has been taken from the Environmental Working Group. The “guide” is based on an analysis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) report, which is published annually.
- Sweet Bell Peppers
These make sense given that we eat the skins or outside flesh of these foods. I link all berries in with strawberries. I also relate all vegetables that grow underground in with potatoes. So, carrots and beets are also purchased organic.
The Clean 15 is a list of produce that is least likely to contain any pesticide.
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas
Use your best judgment on these. If you find that organic broccoli is 7 cents higher than conventional, it might be worth it to vote with your dollars and purchase the organic version.
Coming up with extra money for organic food
Saving a few bucks in other areas of your grocery budget may allow you the extra money you need to buy organic. This all comes down to planning.
As I wrote about in The Great Grocery Haul ebook, planning is essential to a slim grocery budget. If you feel that eating organic is a priority, then cutting back on other things may need to happen.
Can you stop buying junk food or prepackaged snacks? How about soda and juices? Can you incorporate a “water only” rule at dinner to save on these?
Cooking from scratch saves a lot of money and omits the prepackaged foods like mac and cheese, hamburger helper, and rice-a-roni.
There are ways to both save money and eat organic. You just have to be creative.
What I don’t buy organic
There are things in my area that are expensive or hard to come by, so I have to skip purchasing. Cheese, for one.
There are not a lot of choices, and when buying 8 ounces of cheese is twice the amount of conventional, that is a tough pill to swallow. Cottage cheese is something that my oldest son likes.
I save that as a select purchase only sometimes because it is about three times the price of store brand cottage cheese.
I also don’t buy organic snacks often. The only exception is if Aldi has a special purchase of something fun, I will grab that. I try to limit the snacks anyway, but they are snacks, so…
Bread is another one. Normally we go through a lot of bread in our house. (There have been some dietary changes going on, so this is bound to change). Organic bread is pricey, it doesn’t last long, and it seems to get hard. I stick with conventional bread.
I do lean toward uncured, grass fed, free range meats, organic meat, but some of these are hard to find, also. When I see them, I normally prefer to buy them.
Decide on the most important organic foods
You get to decide what is important to you and where you spend your money. If I were to chat with you over coffee, and you wanted to start eating organic, I would say to start with the Dirty Dozen, milk, and yogurt.
Those are all easy to find and are not too much more than conventional (by the way, Aldi has the BEST tasting yogurt and great prices on milk).
In my area, Trader Joe’s has some great prices, but they are about an hour away. There is also a Whole Foods. If you grab their sales, they are not as bad as you might think. I do love to go there! I just wish they were closer.
Buy in season. Look for roadside stands and check out farmers markets. Most roadside stands are managed by everyday farmers who do not put harmful pesticides and herbicides on their gardens. Ask.
You can also grow your own. You don’t need a lot of space to grow a salad garden. Anything is better than buying it!
You can save money and eat organic. I say just do the best you can. If you can not afford organic, I would rather see you eat conventional fruits, and veggies than not eat any fruits and veggies at all.