In recent years, there has been a greater awareness around the importance of buying and consuming organic food. Fortunately, organic options are becoming much more accessible and affordable to the general consumer. Grocery selections, both locally and online, have been taking organic, non-gmo foods to a new level, making them comparable in price to conventional foods. With a little planning, research, and action, it truly is feasible to buy organic food on a budget.
Why It’s Important To Buy Organic Food
Before I tell you how to buy organic food on a budget, it’s first important to know, why you should be buying organic. We all know organic food is better for us, but what does organic actually mean? Rodale Wellness, did a great job summing up the organic requirements by the USDA:
- No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides
- No sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering (GMOs)
- Organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and grass in humane conditions and must be fed certified organic feed
- No antibiotic or growth hormones used on animals
Why Are Pesticides Harmful To Our Bodies?
A pesticide is a substance used to kill feral animals, insects, fungi or plants. There are thousands of different pesticides in use today. Most of the pesticides used today are chemicals which have been developed in a laboratory by scientists and produced in factories. Some pesticides are quite hazardous, as they can be harmful to humans and other living things. (2) An over abundance of pesticides have been known to cause health conditions such as:
- Infertility and Birth Defects
- Brain Development Issues in Kids
- Neurological Disorders
- Digestion and Skin Issues
Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 Lists
I understand it is hard, and possibly not realistic to buy organic food all of the time. We are all still human and life happens, schedules happen, and convenience is very real some days. However, there are some great resources available to educate you on which food selections you really should buy organic if you decide to pick and choose. Each year, www.ewg.com puts out a dirty dozen list and clean 15 list. These lists single out produce with the highest amount of pesticide residue and the lowest amount of pesticide residue. Below are the lists.
Dirty Dozen List:
|1. Strawberries||7. Cherries|
|2. Apples||8. Grapes|
|3. Spinach||9. Celery|
|4. Nectarines||10. Tomatoes|
|5. Peaches||11. Sweet Bell Peppers|
|6. Pears||12. Potatoes|
Clean 15 List:
|1. Sweet Corn||9. Mangoes|
|2. Avocados||10. Eggplant|
|3. Pineapples||11. Honeydew Melon|
|4. Cabbage||12. Kiwi|
|5. Onions||13. Cantaloupe|
|6. Frozen Sweet Peas||14. Cauliflower|
|7. Papayas||15. Grapefruit|
Organic Meat & Poultry
Although the list that EWG provides is extremely helpful with produce, it’s important not to forget about meat and poultry. Approximately 80% of antibiotics sold in America are used not for sick people, but to raise meat and poultry. (3) Yikes! In addition you have the added growth hormones, animal health, and welfare standards that are far from acceptable.
10 Ways To Buy Organic Food on a Budget:
- Re-evaluate where you purchase your groceries: You don’t have to live on a Whole Foods budget to buy organic food. One of my favorite stores is Aldi. They have a really great organic selection. In fact, I can buy organic, grass feed beef at Aldi, cheaper than conventional beef at the other local grocery down the road. Yes, you have to bag your own groceries and it’s kind of a pain, but the cost/food selection outweighs this inconvenience. There are also stores like Sprouts, Trader Joe’s and Lidl (just to name a few) that have great options. Go out and explore in your area!
- Buy in bulk: I know this can be hard if you are really strict with your weekly budget. But if you are able to do it, buy in bulk from stores like Costco. They have great organic meat options that are very comparable in price to conventional meats. I freeze the meat and it will usually last me the entire month. (You pay more up front, but your weekly grocery bill will be less the rest of the month since you have bought all of your meat).
- Meal plan & stick to your grocery list: If you are serious about buying organic and staying within your budget, make your meal plan, and stick to the ingredients you need. Don’t be tempted with that sushi roll that looks so good!
- Think outside the box: I know I talk about it a lot, but Thrive Market has played a large factor in our organic food selections. I still find them to be much cheaper than many local groceries if you are looking for particular brands like: Jackson’s Honest, Bob’s Red Mill, Late July, etc. If you have never read my blog post about Thrive Market, check it out here.
- Local farmers market: You can find some great produce and meats that are locally grown, often at much lower prices than the grocery store. Again, a great place to buy meat in bulk and freeze.
- Get into a routine and stick with it: Find your stores/online groceries of choice, know what you like, what your kids like and start finding your new routine.
- Check out stores like Home Goods & TJ Maxx: I could get lost in the food section of these stores. There are so many fun, unique and healthy food options for a fraction of the price. They have great organic chips, pasta sauces, grains, and so much more. Also a great place to find unique food selections that you may never try otherwise.
- Don’t be drastic: When I decided to switch out a lot of our food selections from conventional to organic, I did not throw everything away in my pantry at once! It was honestly about a year process of finding what we liked, what we could afford, and slowly switching products out. Do what works best for you, your budget, and your family.
- Eat what’s in season: Organic meats and produce all have seasons. Buying in season can save you up to 50%. This is a great time to stock up on meats. Remember, you can freeze them and they will last a long time.
- Buy fresh foods: Cut down on the snacks and chips you buy. Instead, buy more produce! When you get home, clean it and cut it so it is ready to be eaten. (As I talk about a lot, your family will eat the fresh food if it is easily accessible). This will cut way down on the junk food snacking which means you aren’t buying as much of it!
Remember! Your Health Is Your Greatest Investment
Honestly, not every single product in my pantry and refrigerator is organic. I’d be completely lying if I said I was THAT good. But throughout the course of this year, I’ve learned what foods are a must and what foods we can let slide.
Whatever step you are on in your organic food journey, remember, your health is your greatest investment. Food is a powerful medicine. It can heal your body or tear it down. Even if healthier options costs a little more each month, your health is worth it!