As great as organic produce is for your health (as well as the environment and animal welfare), buying it regularly is not so great for the wallet. Especially if you are on a tight budget! If you don’t know what we are talking about, just drop by your local supermarket to see the difference in rates of organically grown carrots and commercially grown ones.
If you are thinking twice about purchasing organic food for the sake of your wallet, here’s just a reminder of why you should always go organic. And a few tips that you can keep in mind while grocery shopping so that you can be well on your way to eating healthier while being penny-wise as well.
Why Choose Organic Food?
Organic farming is great for the environment. The methods used help to increase soil fertility, conserve water, reduce pollution, reduce soil erosion, and use less energy. Also, not using pesticides for farming is better for wildlife and people living in the nearby areas. And it’s a healthier choice for your body as well. Here’s why.
1. Fewer Pesticides And Heavy Metals
Commercially grown agriculture is treated with chemicals such as fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides. According to health experts, these chemicals may be deemed as safe to be used in the quantities used for conventional farming, but repeated exposure could have potentially harmful effects.1 When fruits, vegetables, and grains are organically grown, most synthetic pesticides or artificial fertilizers will not be used.
2. Richer In Certain Nutrients
Organic dairy and meat contain about 50 percent more omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally grown dairy and meat.2
3. More Antioxidants
Organic crops have a significantly higher concentration of beneficial compounds, including a range of antioxidants.3
4. No Antibiotics, Animal Byproducts Or Synthetic Hormones
Livestock that is not grown using organic methods are usually fed antibiotics and animal byproducts. They may also be injected with synthetic growth hormones so that they produce more milk or gain weight faster. Organically raised animals are not given growth hormones, antibiotics, or fed animal byproducts. They are given more space to move around, as well as access to the outdoors, allowing them to be raised in a healthy manner.
5. Fresher Produce
Organic food tends to be fresher because it isn’t treated with preservatives that make it last longer. They also tend to be produced on smaller farms near where it is sold.
When the DNA has been altered to make vegetables or fruits in ways that don’t naturally occur (or in traditional crossbreeding), it is known as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or genetically engineered (GE) foods. This is done in many conventionally grown plants to make them resistant to pesticides or to produce an insecticide.
Tips To Eat Organic On A Budget
1. Ease Into It
Start out slow. No one said that eating healthy is easy. It requires a lot of planning and time management skills. Instead of getting overwhelmed with the task of making your diet 100% organic overnight, stick to just one or two changes to start with. In order to save money for your organic food shopping, you could cut down on another expense.
Try to avoid eating meat three days a week and put away that money for your organic food shopping. That way, not only will you be saving a few bucks, but not having meat once in a while is said to make you feel lighter. Also, you can use the extra saved money to pick organic meat on days that you do eat meat. That way, the meat that you do consume is healthier. Implementing small changes like this in your lives will motivate you to make further big changes in due time.
2. Buy In Bulk
Buying in large quantities saves you money in the long run because the price of the food you buy includes the price of the packaging as well. When you buy in small quantities, you are paying for the packaging each time (which will add up quickly). So doesn’t it make sense to buy in large quantities, letting you pay less for the packaging?
You can purchase many items (that don’t go bad quickly) in bulk such as grains, nuts, and dried fruit. This way, you end up saving money and doing a small part for the environment by reducing your discarded packaging.
3. Eat According To The Seasons
It’s a good practice to eat according to the seasons or food that is grown at the current time of year. Seasonal food is designed to be better for us because they usually have nutrients that are best for you for the particular season. For example, watermelon in the summer will help you stay hydrated as it is full of water.
Another reason to eat what’s in the season is that the food that you buy will be the best tasting, healthiest food available (harvested at the peak of its season) because it doesn’t travel a long way to get to you. It will also be cheaper since it will cost the farmers less to harvest and distribute in bulk.
Finally, tour carbon footprint increases when you buy food that is not grown locally. Think of it this way, if you buy a fruit that is grown in a different country, a whole lot of fuel is being used to transport it to you.
4. Collect Those Coupons
There are many local markets that have weekly mailers where they offer weekly specials and deals on particular items. There are even some apps available that announce the deals so you won’t miss out on any discounts. Find out if your local market has something similar so that you can start saving.
5. Make Your Own Produce
Although its probably impossible for you to grow everything that you need at your home, it is easy to grow certain items like tomatoes and basil right on your balcony. If you don’t have the patience to start from scratch with seeds, you can buy a plant that is already fruitful and just maintain that. If this is successful, there is a chance that you will be motivated by the beautiful organic food that you produced by yourself to stay on the healthy track.
6. Join A Food Co-Op Or A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm
As a member of a natural foods co-op, cooperative grocery or a food co-op, you will get lower prices since you will be paying an annual fee to belong there. As a member of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, you can buy “shares” of produce in bulk, directly from a local farm.
7. Choose Which Items To Buy Organic
The pesticide levels in some types of conventionally-grown produce are much higher than others. Some produce only have negligible amounts of pesticides which means that buying non-organic is relatively safe. If you can’t afford to buy only organic groceries, buy the organic versions of only produce that tend to have high pesticide level if grown commercially.
The following fruits and vegetables have the highest pesticide levels when grown commercially so are best to buy organic:
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Kale/Collard Greens
- Summer Squash
- Nectarines (imported)
- Hot Peppers
The following are vegetables and fruits that are low in pesticides even when they are grown conventionally:
- Sweet Corn
- Sweet Peas (frozen)
- Sweet Potatoes
Finally, make sure that even if you have to shop at a supermarket for your produce, that you look out for the label “USDA organic” which guarantees that strict production and labeling requirements have been followed. Other than the fact that these tips can save you a little money and make you healthier, making these changes can give you a sense of achievement which shouldn’t be missed out on.
|↑1||Baker, Brian P., Charles M. Benbrook, E. Groth III, and K. Lutz Benbrook. “Pesticide residues in conventional, integrated pest management (IPM)-grown and organic foods: insights from three US data sets.” Food Additives & Contaminants 19, no. 5 (2002): 427-446.|
|↑2||Benbrook, Charles M., Gillian Butler, Maged A. Latif, Carlo Leifert, and Donald R. Davis. “Organic production enhances milk nutritional quality by shifting fatty acid composition: a United States–wide, 18-month study.” PLoS One 8, no. 12 (2013): e82429.|
|↑3||Barański, Marcin, Dominika Średnicka-Tober, Nikolaos Volakakis, Chris Seal, Roy Sanderson, Gavin B. Stewart, Charles Benbrook et al. “Higher antioxidant and lower cadmium concentrations and lower incidence of pesticide residues in organically grown crops: a systematic literature review and meta-analyses.” British Journal of Nutrition 112, no. 5 (2014): 794-811.|