Making Organic Affordable
CHECKOUT AISLE SIX AT A LOCAL organic pantry, a woman and her husband unload groceries from their shopping cart onto the moving belt. Numbers crop up in a list on the cash register’s display and the cost of their bi-weekly grocery visit comes to a total in bold: $507.67. While some natural-organic consumers can afford to shop this way, it certainly is not ideal for those of us shopping on a budget. Shopping organic on a budget isn’t always easy. It takes time to familiarize yourself with certain organic products, and the places you can find them locally. Here are some tips on how to get started:
Don’t limit yourself to popular natural foods stores and organic pantries. Shop around and figure out where you’re comfortable spending your hard earned money. Conventional grocery stores often have relatively cheap and expansive selections of organics.
Don’t buy prepared foods. It’s cheaper and healthier to buy the ingredients needed to prepare them yourself.
Make connections with a local farmer and become involved. For a nominal fee toward a membership/ part ownership, food Co-ops offer organics and other natural products, direct from local growers, at discount prices. There are many other programs you can get involved in and become familiar with Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Check online for sites that list your local farmers and CSA programs: nevadagrown.com
Plan your meals and don’t over- shop. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. generates more than 34 million tons of food waste each year. Generating food waste has significant economic and environmental consequences, so make a list of ingredients you’ll need and try to avoid impulse buys.
Don’t buy bottled water. It’s expensive and the bottling process is harmful to the environment. Buy yourself a tap filter and a reusable water bottle to take with you on the go.
Buy organic meats and animal byproducts. Livestock raised on conventional farms are often given antibiotics and recombinant growth hormones. These become present in the conventional beef, pork, and poultry we eat, along with the eggs, milk, and cheese that we get from these animals. Farmed fish are also a red flag as contaminants can be found in the food they are fed; buy wild-caught fish instead.
Purchase bulk items. Some stores have larger selections than others, but most contain essential foods that have high nutrient densities, like oats, whole grains, beans, nuts, rice, and snacks like trail mix and dried fruits.
Save food, save money! Store your food so that it stays fresh, and learn recipes for leftover meals.
Browse coupons and use them! Coupons for natural and organic products are easy to find online, and many stores include them in their print newsletters and catalogues.
Buy organic if it doesn’t have a peel. Many fruits and vegetables are full of pesticides and other dangerous chemicals, even after they are washed. Generally, produce with a peel, rind, husk or protective outer layer is less likely to be affected by pesticides and harsh chemical fertilizers.
Shop seasonally. Learn which fruits and vegetables are harvested during certain times of the year. In the fall, think root vegetables: potatoes, carrots, zucchinis, squash and corn.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to make shopping organic affordable. Shopping within your budget is attainable. It takes sensible thought and consideration to know what you really need. Following these tips and suggestions will help you get there faster.