By Asha Kreiling
Eating organic means eating healthier, more sustainable, pesticide-, chemical-free food. Unfortunately, it also tends to mean buying more expensive food. When you buy organic, you’re paying for extra production labor, processing time, marketing, and organic certification. While conventional produce and food products are typically easier on your wallet, don’t let higher costs dissuade you from buying organic. Do more for your long-term health and environmental sustainability by buying organic.
1. Grow your own: The best way to know where your food comes from and what went into growing it is to grow your own organic garden. Maintaining a garden can take a lot of time and energy, but growing even a few herbs on your windowsill or a couple low-maintenance plants can supplement meals with fresh produce and save you money. Tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, chard and basil are all very easy to grow and can easily create a complete meal with a few additional ingredients like pasta or rice.
2. Decide what must be organic: Some fruits and vegetables are more pesticide-laden than others. If you’re going to buy some things organic and some things conventional, then decide which items you’re better off spending more money on for organic. Apples, berries, and greens tend to have high levels of pesticide residue, while onions, avocados, and sweet corn have less. Check out this site for more tips http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/
3. Get a CSA box or share one: CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes are packed with loads of local, seasonal, organic produce and they are fairly affordable. CSA boxes directly support farms and often introduce you to varieties of fruits and vegetables you’ve never cooked or eaten or seen before. The boxes typically provide ample food, so why not share one and split the cost of it with a friend or neighbor?
4. Don’t worry so much about the label: A certified organic sticker is nice but not necessary. Certification is an expensive, bureaucratic process, and usually small farms just don’t make enough revenue to become certified. By getting to know your local organic farmers and buying directly from them, you don’t need to pay extra for a label.
5. Keep an eye out for sales: Discount organic bananas? Score! Small, independent markets often sell discounted food products (rather than toss them into the dumpster as large grocery stores do) when fruits start to soften or sell by dates become near.
6. Seek out more affordable farmers’ markets: Ever notice how some farmers’ markets are more pricey than others — even if they’re selling the same stuff? It usually has to do with market location and average income levels in the surrounding neighborhood. Smaller markets in nice areas that have more knickknacks and less produce tend to be more expensive for grocery shopping. Seek out the true farmers’ markets where there’s more selection and prices are competitive.
7. Buy in bulk and in season: Stock up on grains, nuts, and seasonal produce while reducing packaging waste and saving money. Freeze or store the rest for when you need it.