Eating Organic Affordably, Yes, you can!
One comment I typically get in regards to eating organically is that it is too expensive. However, with diet contributing to around 75% of chronic diseases and the average US health care costs of treating chronic disease averaging over $1.5 trillion a year, can we really afford not to eat organic? The following are a few suggestions on how to eat organically without blowing your budget, so you can stay healthy to do the things you love to do.
More and more grocery stores have bulk aisles where you can find grains, dry beans, nuts, dried fruit, flour, hot cereals and even olive oil and tamari. This is a very economical and healthy way to go organic. Plus you will cut down on packaging so the planet will love you too. One way to make the most of this is to make beans and grains the bulk of your meals. By investing in a rice cooker, pressure cooker, or crock pot, preparing these staples will be easier than ever.
Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Many stores carry frozen organic vegetables and fruits, which have been harvested at the pick of ripeness. Therefore, they are high in nutrition value. This is particularly true of berries since the proanthocyanidins contained in their skin are more bioavailable as the skin is broken down during the freezing process. Proanthocyanidins are super antioxidants that help protect the cardiovascular system as well as prevent cancer. Frozen varieties are generally economical plus they don't spoil. The one thing to be mindful is that some of these products are not local and may be coming as far as China.
Cheaper Cuts of Meat
One area, which you really need to go organic, is meat and dairy. This is especially true for women as the antibiotics and hormones used to raise conventional livestock increase their susceptibility to female cancers. You can buy cheaper cuts of organic grass fed meat (ie shoulder, flank, tip steak) either from the grocer or the farmers market. You can stew the meat to make it tender and add it to soups, stews, pasta dishes, tacos, and salads. Also buying a whole organic chicken or drumsticks is a lot cheaper per pound then skinless chicken breasts as well as tastier. Other cultures use meat more sparingly in their dishes rather than the 8-12oz steak we are accustom to. So make grains, beans, and vegetables the bulk of the dish and add a little organic meat for flavor and extra protein and fat.
Local and Seasonal
Not only is seasonal produce at their nutritional peak, they are generally the cheapest and tastiest. You can also freeze, dry or can seasonal produce and enjoy them when they are out of season. Load up on produce that will provide more bang for your buck nutrient wise such as dark leafy greens, beets, and root vegetables. To find out what is in season check out Field to Plate. Although eating organic produce is important, some conventional varieties have lower pesticide residues then others. Click here to download a pocket guide to Dirty Dozen to see which ones to avoid.
This stands for community supported agriculture. Participants generally pay for a season and receive a box of assorted produce, as well baked goods, dairy items, eggs and even meats from local organic farms. These are either delivered or members picked them up at the farm. Some farms even offer work exchange programs to decrease the cost of membership. The advantage is eating locally and seasonally and prices tend to be less expensive than if one was to shop at the farmers market or grocery store. Check out www.localharvest.org for more information.
A buying club (coop) is usually made up of a small group of families or households in search of a better or more economical way of purchasing food or other items (garden seeds, services, equipment, etc.). They usually have a common need or philosophy when it comes to spending their time or money on these needs. Check out www.foodshedalliance.org for more information.
Overall to make the most of organic as well as keep it cost effective make whole foods (beans, meats, produce, grains, and dairy) a priority rather than organic processed foods and convenience items. Let's also rediscover the joy of cooking and remember organic junk food is organic junk food.