For most people, switching to an organic diet is a gradual process. A large part of this generally
comes down to the simple fact that organic foods tend to be more expensive than non-organic. While
that’s true, organic foods are costlier in monetary value, their counterparts have many hidden costs that
we should take into consideration: Non-organic foods are full of pesticides and different pesticides have
been linked to a variety of health problems, including hormone disruption, cancer, and brain toxicity.
Other factors include demanding more from the earth than it can produce and other long-term health
costs associated with ingesting chemicals that we haven’t even seen yet.
So, whether for health, the planet or personal preference, eating organic should be a priority for all
of us. But it’s not always easy to justify the cost, especially when you have a family at home to feed. Let
us help you get started with these tips on how you can eat organic on a budget!
1. Make a Gradual Transition
Like anything, you wouldn’t expect to achieve something new overnight. Start by choosing certain foods
you would like to go organic with and look for them at the most inexpensive prices you can find.
2. Prioritize the Organic vs. Non-Organic Foods You Eat
Some foods aren’t necessary to buy organic. The ‘Dirty Dozen and The Clean 15’ refer respectively to
the fruits and vegetables that are the most and least contaminated by pesticide use, according to the
Environmental Working Group.
As I’m sure you can guess, try and buy the ‘Dirty Dozen’ organically when you can, and don’t worry so
much about the ‘Clean 15’.
The Dirty Dozen (in order of contamination)
Apples, Celery, Sweet bell peppers, Peaches, Strawberries, Nectarines, Grapes, Spinach, Lettuce,
Cucumbers, Blueberries, Potatoes
The Clean 15 (in order of least contamination)
Onions, Sweet Corn, Pineapples, Avocado, Cabbage, Sweet peas, Asparagus, Mangoes, Eggplant, Kiwi,
Cantaloupe, Sweet potatoes, Grapefruit, Watermelon, Mushrooms
3. Plan Ahead
Instead of going to the store and haphazardly throwing things into your cart and ending up at home
wondering what to do with your purchases, plan ahead! Make a list, create a meal plan for the week,
and come home with your delicious, thoughtfully picked ingredients knowing you’re going to put them
to great use. Not only will this help you save money by shopping for only what you need, but it will also
help you waste less food (the average household wastes 20%-30% through mismanaging the pantry,
over buying, and poor storage). Use your oldest meat and vegetables first and try to build your menus
around those ingredients. Mindful planning, mindful buying, less waste, more money saved.
4. Buy in Bulk
Buying some produce in bulk can help you save money in the long run. Bulk buy products are often
cheaper, but we still want to be mindful about not overbuying and letting products go to waste. Stick to
pastas, dried foods and vegetables that have a long life like potatoes and onions.
Many natural foods stores, such as Whole Foods, also sell organic products such as grains, nuts, and
spices in bulk bins. (Bonus points for bringing a reusable bag!) When compared to the price you see
these products in their pre-packaged bags on the shelves, you’re saving a fair amount.
5. Buy Seasonal
Produce is cheaper when it’s in season. Firstly, because it hasn’t had to be shipped halfway across the
world to hit your cart. This means there is less money spent on transport (and less pollution... bonus!),
so more money savings for your pocket. Secondly, seasonal produce is more abundant which means
shops mark the prices down to get rid of it before it spoils.
6. Buy Local
A great way to buy organic produce at affordable prices is by visiting your local farmers market. By going
to a farmer’s market, you skip the middleman (grocery stores) and you can ask questions about how the
product you are buying was grown. It helps stimulate the local community and economy and if you shop
around a bit, you can find some bargains right on your doorstep.
Pro-Tip: Be the last one to leave, farmers often cut their prices towards the end of the day so they don’t
have to take their food back to the farm with them.
7. Grow Your Own
Growing your own food can be a truly rewarding experience. Start with a couple pots of your favourite
herbs (organic herbs are one of the most overpriced items at the grocery store), and one or two of the
vegetables you use most frequently. You don’t even need a garden: Just some pots, a windowsill or
porch, and a little bit of determination. Remember to buy non-GMO seeds and get growing.
Keep in mind that the more we support organic farming, the more the cost of organic food will come
down — it’s simple supply and demand!