Due to the liberal use of pesticides, the rise of GMOs, and the proliferation of preservatives, trying to eat healthy seems to keep getting more difficult. If you read ingredient labels at your grocery store, it’s like the cards are stacked against you. You might look at organic food as the best option (and it is) only to despair at the prices. For some reason, the food that’s presented the way nature intended costs up to 75% more than the stuff loaded with garbage.
But wait! It IS possible to eat organic food on a budget. Here are some simple tips you can use that will help you buy organic cheaply.
Develop a Green Thumb
One of the best ways to eat organic, and make big savings doing it, is to grow your own.
Ditch the Grocery Stores… Mostly
Corporate grocery stores usually have one goal: profits. Therefore they jack up prices while looking to minimize waste. Fruits, vegetables and meats have limited life cycles and the big stores see organic food as having the shortest. Foods full of chemicals and pesticides, on the other hand, are artificially formulated to last longer and thus cost less. This is one of the reasons why buying organic food on a budget at a grocery store is often tough.
However, if you see well priced organic food in a grocery store, go ahead and buy it. Even if it bears a store brand or ‘no name’ label. (These labels are placed on regular name-brand items. They’re not lesser alternatives.) The USDA has very strict guidelines when it comes to food labeled as organic. Whether it’s Publix, Trader Joe’s, Earth Fare, or Whole Foods, you can sometimes save on organic.
Help small businesses and local farmers. Frequenting farmers’ markets, and even local farms, will cut out the middle man. You get much better value. You’ll also know where your food comes from and be certain it is indeed organic.
Clean Fifteen and Dirty Dozen
When shopping for organic food, budget constraints can make you pick and choose which items to buy and which to pass by.
Some fruits and vegetables you buy don’t always have to be entirely organic. Why? Because research shows they don’t absorb pesticides as much. (But be sure they are not GMO.) These are called the ‘Clean 15’. Actually there are 18: avocado, corn, eggplant, sweet potatoes, asparagus, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peas, onions, mushrooms, mangoes, watermelons, grapefruit, cantaloupe, kiwis, pineapple and papaya.
But definitely buy organic with the fruits and vegetables that are listed in the ‘Dirty Dozen’. (Again, there are actually more to this list.) The non-organic of these are shown to have the highest levels of pesticides in them: cherries, grapes, berries, apples, peaches, nectarines, potatoes, peppers, leafy greens, celery, carrots, cucumbers, and green beans.
Coupons and Freezer Finds
Coupons are great for obtaining organic food while on a tight budget. Register on websites, sign up for your store’s newsletter, and check online for organic food coupons. You can find great coupons for fresh, organic food, and also for boxed, bagged, and canned organic food. When buying fresh fruit and vegetables using coupons, buy in bulk and freeze what you can for using later.
While you’re online, sites like Thrive Market, Herbs Pro, and Amazon all sell organic lines of food. This includes non-perishable food and, in some case, fresh produce. Retailers like these have significant bulk buying power and can pass on the savings to you, especially if they don’t have fancy stores to run.
So, eating organic food on a budget is indeed possible. Use these tips and you’ll be eating better, feeling better, and helping farmers and growers, all without breaking the bank.
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