Buying organic foods is a growing necessity for many families. A lot of children are already obese at a young age. Half of the people living in the Western world have chronic diseases. The majority of elderly people are on medications that can be avoided for a great deal if we make healthy choices.
The more concerned we become about the pollutants and chemicals in our food, the greater the need for organic replacements. However, it’s not always easy to go the organic way as this can be expensive.
Once we are motivated enough it is very doable to buy organic food on a budget. If more people did this, it would be a big advantage in two ways: prices would drop because of more demand and organic farmers would get their fair share.
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9 Tips to buy organic food on a budget
The best time to do your shopping is right after a meal. If you are not hungry, you are not making impulse purchases.
Make your shopping list at home so you can check what’s still in stock. If your kitchen cabinets are well organized, you have a quick overview, so you don’t buy things you still have.
Browse the offers. Often these are excellent articles that are close to the expiration date. Depending on the product, there is still time left before it deteriorates.
Personally, I think it’s strange that a pizza is cheaper than a bag of organic Kiwis. Eating pizza every day will eventually ruin your health and immune system, where eating organic fruits and vegetables will strengthen your natural defense against diseases.
The hidden health costs of eating fast food and foods that have been maltreated with pesticides should be added at the purchase price. But as long as this is not enforced, it’s good to inform yourself of the benefits of eating healthy.
Seasonal products cost less and are also better for you. Our bodies are designed to eat according to where we live and buying in-season helps you achieve this.
In the summer we need more watery foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. These also have higher sources of vitamins and nutrients designed to help us during the summer months. In the winter our bodies need the dense energy found in root vegetables such as squash and pumpkins.
Where possible choose seasonal organic fruit and vegetables for your table. If you frequent organic farmers’ markets and local ecological shops, this is quite easy to do as many tend to sell only fruits and vegetables from the season.
Unravel marketing babble
True organic produce has a label from certified organizations. There is a lot of ‘greenwashing’ since the big companies have discovered that people actually want to pay more for quality. That makes it tempting to want a portion of that cake too and to use words like ‘natural’ and ‘green’ on the packaging.
Buying local versus organic
Many small local farmers use ethical methods for growing their crops – meaning they grow in the most natural way possible and use ancient methods like companion planting to do pest control. However, a lot of them are not certified organic farmers as this can be a pricey and lengthy process for the average small farmer.
In this case, it may be best to weigh out the options of buying local versus imported organic. Imported organic fruits and vegetables can be harmful to the environment depending on the transport issue and tend to lose more nutrients and vitamins due to long storage times and cooling.
Buying local, fresh, in-season produce may be a better alternative in a lot of cases. Try to get acquainted with local farmers so you know how they handle their crops. You may be also lucky enough to have a local, organic farmers’ market near you.
Grow your own
Growing your own is more popular than ever. It really isn’t that difficult or time-consuming to grow your own vegetables and fruits. You don’t need to go down the route of being completely self-sufficient (unless you’d like to be of course), you can simply grow a few vegetables to help make a dent in your food costs.
It’s also very rewarding to grow your own. Some of the easiest vegetables to grow are arugula, spinach, tomatoes, and cucumbers. All are quite pricey if purchased organically at the supermarket and you can easily grow your own at home even with little space.
Try your hand at growing different varieties of fruit and vegetables and you may just find you get hooked, as happened to Tom and me. There is nothing more satisfying than growing and harvesting your own food.
Go vegetarian or vegan
Meat is expensive and organic meat is very expensive. When meat doesn’t cost a lot of money, you can be sure that it is produced in a quick and animal degrading manner. It will be full of growth hormones we certainly don’t want into our bodies.
An organic plant-based diet doesn’t have these disadvantages. Some people think they can’t live without their daily meat, yet I can assure you it’s just in the mind. When we put our mind to it we can move mountains.
Join a cooperation
A co-op is wonderful and truly a win-win situation. They can be organized in different ways. In the Netherlands, we were members of the organic supermarket chain Odin. We paid a monthly membership fee that was the same for everyone and because of that, all products were available at a reduced price.
Now that we live in Spain, we joined the co-op program of our local organic shop. They have a different setup. We pay an amount at the beginning of the month. Depending on the amount, a certain discount applies to the products.
How is this a win-win? The store is assured of turnover and can therefore also offer certainty to the organic farmers. The customer benefits from cheaper products and can be assured of regular supplies.
Buy in bulk
In all organic shops, I have visited so far it is possible to buy goods in bulk. Bring your own jars or paper bags and fill them with what you need. There are still products that are packaged in plastic, also in organic stores, unfortunately, but if we all say no to the plastic-wrapped goods, things will change.
Are you considering going organic?
To buy organic food on a budget is possible with some research and persistence. It’s also worth adding that buying and cooking foods from scratch may be cheaper (even organic varieties) than buying prepackaged foods – not to mention that they are better for you.
You can also look at other ways to cut back on your budget, such as eating out less or driving one car instead of two or three and use the extra funds for your organic food budget.
Have you considered buying organic produce? Tell us in the comment box.