Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Going Organic Without Breaking the Bank

So now that we understand the importance of buying organic foods, let's take a look at the prices. Yes, organic food is more expensive, simple as that. But it is possible, and worth it when the true cost of conventional food is taken into account (use of fossil fuels, middle men, pesticides, genetic engineering...this could be a post all on its own). My husband and I have been eating almost 100% organic for almost 5 years now, and I have found that I spend almost as much as everyone else on groceries. There are quite a few ways to buy organic at a reasonable price, you just have to do a little extra work. Here are my suggestions for eating organic without breaking the bank.

-Shop at Your Local Farmer's Market:
  • This is quite a simple concept. Since you are buying your food directly from the farmer, it is guaranteed to be cheaper. I find that the exact same head of organic lettuce at my favorite health food store is twice as much as it is at my farmer's market. By shopping with local farmers, you take the middle men right out of the picture, and your money goes straight into the pocket of your neighbor. The farmer becomes directly woven into the community, while the community becomes intimate with its local food source. A win win situation. If you don't have time to go to a farmer's market, then join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA does all the work for you by assembling a box of fresh produce, usually with recipes included, and delivering it either directly to you, or to a drop off spot. It doesn't get any easier than that. And again, your supporting a local farmer.

-Shop and Eat Seasonally:

  • Again, simple concept, but hardly done by anyone. Buying fresh produce out of season is bound to be much more expensive. Fresh tomatoes in winter not only taste terrible, but cost quite a bit. Not worth it! Keep your foods seasonal. This may be a bit hard at first, especially if you are use to eating the same foods year round. There is an amazing array of fresh produce out there, and every piece has its own season. If you follow the above concept to shop at your local farmers market, then you will inevitably be shopping seasonally. The two are one and the same.
-Shop at Local Health Food Stores and Co-Ops:
  • Organic foods are always more expensive in a large chain grocery store than they are at a local health food store or Co-Op. Most health food stores and co-ops buy directly from farmers, which again, gets rid of middle men. Large chain grocery stores buy their foods from other companies, who buy their food from other companies, and so on and so forth. This is especially true for already prepared and packages foods.

-Cook Your Food Yourself:

  • Buying already packaged and prepared foods is much more expensive than buying the raw ingredients. This is probably the hardest part for people, but the most rewarding, and there is no way around it. If you want the reward, you have to put in the effort! Pick one day a week where all you do is cook for the week ahead, freezing if necessary. There are many ways to make your cooking life easy. It is worth the investment.