Shop Organic Without Spending a Bundle
By Susan Johnston via Bundle.com
Buying organic food might be good for your health, but it’s not always so good for your wallet. Fortunately, we’ve uncovered strategies for buying organic produce and other organic items without breaking the bank. Amy McCoy, author of Poor Girl Gourmet, and Gary Foreman, editor of The Dollar Stretcher, offered the following tips.
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1. Buy in season
Thanks to supply and demand, produce that is in season will cost less than other times of the year. McCoy knows a farmer who does a second planting of zucchini after most farmers have harvested their zucchini crop. Because zucchini is so scarce in the fall, he can practically name his own price, which gets passed onto consumers. The other benefit of buying in season is the produce is fresher and more flavorful. “Try not to buy tomatoes in the middle of the winter,” says McCoy. “They’re going to be expensive and they’re not going to have as much taste, but butternut squash will be cheaper in the winter and fall than the summer.” Find the best deals on produce in your area.
2. Plan your meals around what you buy
Produce that sits in your fridge and eventually rots costs you money, so McCoy urges consumers to plan ahead and only buy what you need to avoid waste. “As you’re planning your meals for the week, figure out how many vegetables you need,” she suggests. “A half pound per serving size per person for vegetables is a good rule of thumb.” Also look for sales and plan your meals around those items. “Don’t leave the house before you know what’s on sale,” she adds. “If organic blueberries and organic spinach are on sale, I might make a spinach salad.” Stay healthy and eat well with these health food stores near you.
3. Go straight to the source
Instead of shopping at large chain grocery stores, Foreman suggests getting more creative. “Ideally, and this probably goes with the locavore trend, you want to get as close to the source as possible,” he says. “Start researching organic farms within a reasonable distance of where you live. Some of those farmers may sell direct to consumers, or they may sell to local farmer’s markets or local health food stores, or through a CSA.” Even if a farm isn’t certified organic, the farmers may still follow organic practices. “The reason why farmers don’t always certify organic is it costs thousands of dollars to do,” adds McCoy. A chat with farmers at a local market can offer insight into their farming practices. Plus, as McCoy points out, they’re more likely to offer better prices once you’ve established a relationship.
4. Search for coupons
Coupons for organic produce are a rarity but you might find coupons for other products like organic granola, yogurt, bread, or cleaning supplies. McCoy suggests checking WholeFoodsMarket.com and OrganicFoodCoupons.com for coupons. Also check the websites of organic brands you buy, as some companies offer coupons through their website. Are coupons really worth the trouble? Find out here.
5. Grow your own produce
Another way to avoid synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in your fruits and veggies is to grow them yourself. McCoy grows asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, and zucchini at home and says she’s already earned back the money she spent on seeds and other materials. Foreman suggests trading surplus from your garden with friends or neighbors. “Chances are, you’re not the only person in your community with organic gardening interests,” he says. “If one person grows cucumbers and another grows tomatoes, you can share with each other.” Start your garden now by shopping at these top gardening stores near you.
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