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How to Eat Organic on a Budget

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!