Organic – Even on a Budget
February 14th, 2016 by Kari Schadler, M.A., CRC, CHHC
We are currently participating in what some are referring to as the Real Food Movement. Loads of us have experienced some type of chronic condition or another that was brought on or exacerbated, at least in part, by our Standard American Diet, and was improved or healed by diet and lifestyle changes.
Americans are increasingly seeking whole/unprocessed, real foods that are organically grown as evidence of the impact of agricultural chemicals expands and the governmental groups continue to increase the amount and toxicity of the chemicals that are allowed to be used in conventional farming.
Much of the population is struggling with how to eat organic food while still being able to take care of their other financial obligations. For others, the cost of organic makes it seem out of reach.
I’m hopeful that the tips below will be helpful to all individuals that want to increase the amount of organic foods available to them.
Alright, let’s dive in.
TIPS FOR EATING ORGANIC ON A BUDGET
Be selective if you can’t purchase all organic
– Buy produce based on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
– Prioritize buying organic for foods that are known GMOs (corn, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets, etc.) or avoid them entirely
– Prioritize buying organic meat and dairy to avoid pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, GM feed, inhumane treatment toward animals, environmental pollutants, etc…
– Take a good look at your meat and dairy portions and consider whether you might want to gradually (or quickly – whatever works best for you;) decrease your portion sizes of these and increase beans, nuts and seeds as other protein sources along with non-starchy veggies to help move yourself toward a plant-based diet, which evidence has shown can prevent and even reverse some of the chronic diseases that many of us are facing
Invest in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) share
– Find a CSA farm near you at Local Harvest
– Some farms will let you pay the annual fee over 12 months (mine does!)
– You can split a share if it’s too much for you to eat/freeze before it spoils
– Some CSA farms offer a newsletter, telling you what is ripe and ready and what needs ripening, along with recipes (my CSA even has an ingredient-searchable recipe database)
Shop at Farmers’ Markets
– Experiment with going late – some farmers may cut prices near the end
Buy in bulk
– Pantry items such as: dry beans/legumes/lentils, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, grains, nuts, seeds…
– Be sure to store properly (e.g. you can freeze most seeds to lengthen shelf life)
Buy frozen fruits and veggies
– They’re usually frozen at peak ripeness and typically cost much less
Choose whole foods instead of processed
Grow some of your own
– Start small!
– You can grow salad greens and other foods inside your home, year-round
– Check out the Food Growing People
– Learn from others – see 100 Days of Real Food, Growing Food: Lessons Learned
– Search under Kindle books on the Amazon store – they have plenty of free or low-cost gardening books that change on a regular basis (get a free Kindle reader for your smart phone, tablet or computer)
Use coupons for organics
– See the Food Babe’s tips for an extensive list of where to find coupons, along with other great advice and resources
Watch for sales
– Stock up if it’s a regular item you’ll use (e.g. coconut oil, raw nuts, seeds) well before it expires
Ask your grocer if there are recurring sales on organics
– A grocery store near my home has 10% off all organics on Wednesdays
Buy the whole animal and use the carcass to make bone broth
– Split the cost with someone if you need to
Buy pantry staples online
– I save money through Thrive Market (not an affiliate link)
– Superfoods are a great addition to smoothies
Eat locally grown produce
– If you’re able to form a relationship with a local farmer, you could ask about their growing methods – some may not spray harmful chemicals but do not seek organic certification due to the cost
– It’s often less costly because you’re not paying for the cost to transport
– Check out the Eat Wild directory
Eat foods that are in season
– Abundance typically brings the cost down (plus your body may prefer it that way)
Home cook instead of eating out as much as possible
– It’s one of the only ways to truly know all of the ingredients in your meal
– Eating out can get quite costly per meal, especially if you’re at a place that calls for a tip; if you’re not, the quality of your food is likely to be especially poor
Avoid food waste
– Meal plan – use produce at peak ripeness, make it a house team effort
– Freeze leftovers and excess food that won’t be used before spoiling
– See Food Babe’s tips at the bottom – Stop Wasting Food
Take an honest look at your budget
– Track expenses over a few months to see where your priorities currently are – is there anything excessive or unnecessary?
– Write down what you’d prefer your budget priorities to be
– Type up your current minimum budget in an Excel or other doc and see where you can get creative
– Consider your recreational time – does it include alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, gambling…? One step at a time, make swaps (e.g. you could start by making your own drinks at home – stay safe and avoid pricey bar mark-ups and cab fare) then decrease use in a way that works for you
Keep a food journal for at least a week and note your observations
– Are your portions of meat and dairy oversized (see above)?
– Are you getting enough non-starchy veggies? How about healthy fats from plant sources?
Cook in bulk
– This will help to make all of this doable – cook once; eat twice!
– Make huge pots of soups and chili and freeze leftovers
Get your housemates on board if possible
– We all do better with support
– We are a mix of the people closest to us in regards to pursuit of goals, socioeconomic status, health habits, etc. – we may as well have a positive influence on those we love in order to all lead longer, exciting lives
– Pack trail mix, homemade granola, dried (unsweetened) fruit
– Bring a reusable stainless steel bottle to refill with water
– Bring your own organic herbal teas
– Consider Go Greens or a similar organic product
– Remember that going to an expensive restaurant does not always mean you’re getting quality food – is there a grocery store nearby that may have better options?
– Check out the Eat Well Guide
Skip conventional coffee and make your own at home or swap for green or herbal tea
Pay attention to food politics and policy
– There’s a reason organic is more expensive than conventional food; as Robyn O’Brien explains, “The cost structure on our food supply offers taxpayer-funded resources called subsidies to the farmers using genetically engineered seeds and saturating crops in insecticides and weed killers, while charging the organic farmers fees to prove that their crops are safe.”
– Vote with your fork by getting creative with the ideas above so you can increase organic, whole foods
– Take the moment to sign petitions as you see them
– Follow and support organizations fighting for the right things such as:
I hope this helps!
Is there anything I’m missing? Comment below!
I’ll take this into consideration for future blog posts, resource guides and other freebies!
Cheers – to your best health and an exciting life!
Kari Schadler, M.A., CRC, CHHC
Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
Functional Medicine Coaching Academy, Inc. Beta Student