Eating Organic on a Budget

Health & Well Being

Are Higher Prices Keeping You From Eating Organic?

Many people, especially parents with young children and grandparents as well, are turning to organic products to reduce exposure to pesticides and other toxins commonly associated with food production. If you too are trying to “eat clean,” but find organic prices a bit steep, you’re not alone. Here are some of the reasons that organic products cost more and some tips on how you can save on organics.

Why are organic products more expensive?

Growers and producers must go through long and laborious processes just to get their farms, fields, and equipment to the starting line before embarking on their quest to be certified organic. Land that has been treated with pesticides must lie dormant and unused for a full three years before being planted with a new crop. There is a stringent certification process and inspections each year to ensure compliance. Overall, the organic growing process requires farmers to be more mindful to every step of production. That extra care taken with seed, soil, and substances used to inhibit pests and weeds is time consuming, but keep in mind that organic growers have your best interests at heart and they trust you’ll be willing to pay a little more for the produce and other organic food products you choose.

What Exactly Is Meant By “Organic”?

It’s important to note that organic does not necessarily mean pesticide- or antibiotic-free. Organic foods and agricultural products can be labeled as such if they have been produced through methods approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and those production methods have been verified and certified by a USDA-accredited agent.

How To Save On Organic Produce

Prioritize your organic purchases to save money. There are hundreds of fruits, vegetables, and other food products that can be produced using organic farming methods. In some cases, if possible, you should always go for the organic option. With others, going with a traditionally-produced product vs. organic can help you save.

There’s no need to spend more on gasoline or go out of your way to find organic food. Your local grocer — whether a small store or big box operation — is likely to have organic versions of your favorite fruits and vegetables in stock.

Buy local. Chances are, many of the vendors at your local farmers market are using organic growing methods.

With more growers going organic all the time, it’s getting easier to find organic items on sale. Look for deals and coupons.

Shop seasonally to get the best deals.

Finally, consider growing your own, especially easy crops like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. You control how much pesticide and herbicide to apply to your plants, and you’ll find lots of products designed to help you cultivate a cleaner crop.

When Should You Always Opt For Organic?

A group of popular fruits and veggies known as the “Dirty Dozen” are where you should spend your organics grocery budget.
These products are typically eaten whole, skin on, with pesticide residue left behind, even after washing.

The following fruits and vegetables are commonly found in every Dirty Dozen round up:
Apples, Pears, Peaches
Kale, Collards
Bell peppers

When Can You Go With Nonorganic Fruits And Vegetables?

Oranges, bananas, avocados, and other foods with a peel or rind are often referred to as the “Clean 15.” If you’re trying to save money, go with the traditionally produced option here. Also included in this group are vegetables like cabbage where the outer layer of leaves is typically removed before cooking, and sweet peas which are typically removed from the pod before use. Fruits and vegetables with a peel or rind should still be washed prior to cutting to prevent contamination.

The following fruits and vegetables are commonly named to the Clean 15 list:
Sweet corn
Sweet peas
Kiwi fruit
Sweet potatoes