If you're trying to eat more organic foods, you'll quickly find that the prices can be quite different than on conventional items. Here are some simple ways to save on organic food that will help you fit more organic foods into your family's budget.
Buy Organic (even if might not be certified)
Do your research to find companies that operate ethically and organically. Organic certification costs a lot of money to pay for that label and oversight. Many companies use organic seeds, non-gmo varieties, and organic pesticide methods, but they just don’t have their organic practices monitored by a government approved agency. If you can interview the producer and feel comfortable with their practices, then you can buy from them and not have the extra cost of certification.
There are many farms and ranches in my area that use organic practices without applying for certification. It's worth a quick search to see if you can find organic savings from non-certified producers.
Buy Local Organic Products
Most people will find that they have amazing farmers markets and local vendors in their area. They deliver quality produce, honey, meat, dairy, and canned goods (yeah, we love pickles!)
It saves money to buy locally, because you’re not having to pay to ship these items across the country. You also save because you’re usually buying from the original producer instead of a middle man or grocery market. This keeps the profits with the first level producers and keeps the extra money (from the middle man being gone) in your own pocket.
Of course there are other benefits. Buying locally supports small businesses which strengthens local communities. Also, tax dollars from the local business sales benefit local government. You’re basically investing in your own community with every purchase.
Buy Organic and Natural Items from a Coop or CSA
Cooperative purchasing is a way for a bunch of individuals to come together, buy in bulk, and enjoy huge savings. Just imagine gathering with 1000 people who are looking for the same product and negotiating a wholesale price to split among all the participants. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and coops organize buyers and sellers and work together with a (usually) volunteer army to deliver and distribute the goods on a scheduled basis.
Coops are set up all around the country to deliver fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and even meats sometimes to local customers. Visit this site to find a coop or CSA near you.
Only Buy Organic Produce When It Matters Most
Prioritize which items are most important to your family. Buy conventional produce if the risks are reasonable to you and your family. The Clean 15 are a great place to spend money on conventional items so you can spend a little more buying organic for the items on the Dirty Dozen PLUS list.
Items that you might consider buying conventional since the pesticide levels on these are low.
Dirty Dozen PLUS
Produce you should consider purchasing organic to avoid pesticides. Put your money into these organic purchases.
These pesticide “clean” and “dirty” lists are compiled based on tests that go above and beyond USDA recommendations. Get more information on these lists and other food scores here.
Buy Organic Groceries Online
Sometimes my favorite brands of organic products are not easily available from my local retailers. The products might be too new or not as popular with other shoppers in my area. I always watch for a few of my favorite organic items to go on sale online.
This is a great option especially since many brands offer special promotions and deals for online buyers that aren’t an option in brick and mortar shops. Prime shipping is available on most of my favorites and this saves me a trip to the store.
With these priorities in place, you can spend a little less on organics and do better for your family one simple step at a time.