Most people are aware of the benefits of eating organic foods. They have been proven to contain a higher percentage of nutrients, have no pesticide residue, generally taste better and have positive benefits on the environment and the people who farm them.
So why don't more people eat organic? Most people feel it's too expensive. It costs an average of 30% more for organic goods than for conventionally grown products and not everyone has that extra money to spare. But by employing smart shopping tactics, you can save money and eat healthier. Here are a few tips and resources that we have found to help make eating organic a healthy and affordable choice.
Evaluate the food products that you consume every day. Decide which products makeup the core of your diet. The next time you're in the supermarket, check out the natural foods section or visit your local natural foods market. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that organic milk does not cost significantly more than your normal brand and considering the huge health benefits (no hormones, pesticides or antibiotics), this is a great place to start - especially if you have children.
- Buy in season and be flexible. Purchase what is in season and you can save big on your produce purchases. This time of year, enjoy warm, squash soups, fresh broccoli and artichokes. In the summer, the harvest is more bountiful and fresh fruit salad is easy to come by. Find out if your city has a local farmer's market. This is a great source for in-season, fresh produce that if not certified organic, may still be pesticide free since it does not travel far. Many cities have farmers' markets year-round, rain or shine.
- Check for local food-coops as well. You can become a member for very little money (sometimes as low as $15) and you then have access to all types of organic foods at great prices. Many times, if you can find about eight hours a month to donate at the co-op you can save an additional 10-12% off your purchases.
- Be on the lookout for coupons. Many natural products have coupons right on the package to be redeemed at checkout. Visit company websites. Many offer coupons and or incentives to try their products. Two great sites to look for coupons are stonyfieldfarms.com and mambosprouts.com. They both offer a great selection of food manufacturers with links to their home pages where you can request information and additional coupons such as Smucker Quality Beverages - the parent company for Santa Cruz Organics, After the Fall, and Knudsen brand juices. You can contact Smuckers at 530-899-5010 and request product coupons.
- Keep an eye out for sales. Yep, organic products go on sale the same as anything else. This is where you can scoop up some great deals. For instance, last week at our local natural foods market, we noticed that some varieties of Santa Cruz Organic juices were on sale for $1.99 for a 32oz. bottle - no limit. We also found cans of organic soup for 99 cents - less than many of Progresso's varieties. So, the general idea here is to be flexible and stock up when something you like goes on sale.
- Buy In Bulk. This is one area that many people ignore and can save you quite a bit of money. You can purchase nearly all of your grains, pastas, dried fruits and nuts, and flours in bulk. By bulk, we don't mean having to purchase 25 pounds of rice that's going to last you a lifetime. You can purchase ¼ lb or 5 lbs - the difference is that you are not paying for packaging. Your local grocery store and natural foods stores have bulk isles where you simply fill a bag, write the price on the twist tie and they'll weigh it at the register. You can buy organic brown rice for $.99 lb or fresh, shelled almonds for $4.99 lb. Re-use your plastic bag (see other article) and you'll help preserve the environment and natural resources too.