Unfortunately, what prevents many people from buying organic fruit and vegetable is that they think it’s too expensive to make an integral part of their lifestyle. That needn’t be the case though. Here are a few tips to eat organic food without blowing your budget.
Prioritise you shopping budget
First of all it will really help if your streamline your grocery budget. Draw up a weekly or monthly budget for how much you can spend on your groceries in total. Is there some area in which you’re willing to make cuts to be able to spend more on organic produce? For instance like eating out a bit less, which will inevitable cost more than cooking meals at home with organic ingredients. You’ll probably find that you can afford to spend more on organic food than you thought.
Buy from local farmers
Certified organic food can indeed be pricey. However, if you can find small, local farmers that aren’t certified as organic, but which you can nonetheless trust as an organic source, you’re likely to get organic produce at a better price. Many small producers refrain from seeking organic accreditation to keep prices low. You can shop at your local organic food or farmer’s markets. Or else even just get to know the farmers in your area and establish relationships with them.
Grow your own
Growing your own vegetables doesn’t have to be as impractical as you probably think, and is a great way to get a steady supply of organic produce at a very low cost. What’s more, there’s something very satisfying about eating something you’ve grown yourself. There are various options available to you even if you don’t have a garden. Such as sprouting, micro gardening and window garden boxes.
The best is to grow only what you are sure you would make regular use of. For instance, sprouts are so very simple to grow, but particularly convenient if you can get in the habit of often using them in your meals.
Pick and choose your organic food
Buying organic is not an all or nothing situation. Not everything in your grocery basket has to be organic. However, if only some of your food is going to be organic, make sure you prioritise what’s organic and what isn’t. It’s more important with some foods that they be organic than with others. Meat and dairy is very important to buy organic because of the combined risk of pesticide, anti-biotic and cancer causing growth hormone exposure. Because these foods can be expensive, you may want to cut down on your animal product consumption.
Other foods that are more important to be organic include stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, as well as vegetables like lettuce, spinach, carrots and potatoes. Also, coffee is the most chemically treated foodstuff in the world (and the third most treated product after cotton and tobacco), so you’d be better off buying organic coffees as well. Check out the Environmental Working Group’s 2013 shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce for a more comprehensive list.
It’s great if you’re watching what you’re eating by reaching for fruit and veggies rather than sugary and processed foods. But it can be frustrating knowing that even though fruit and vegetables should be the nutritious alternative nature provides us with, synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilisers hamper their health potential. That’s why choosing organic produce is the way to go. Just find a shopping routine and grocery list that works for your budget.
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Queenie Bates is a freelance writer currently based in Cape Town, South Africa. She has a particular interest in the area of healthy living and sustainability, usually writing for environmental blogs.