Here are some strategies for saving money with organics.
Some people in our society say that purchasing organic is too expensive. My response has been, conventional food is too cheap. The conventional food industry tries to produce a commodity for as little cost as possible, being competitive in the marketplace and making as much profit for their corporation as possible.
There are some big players in the organic food industry and not everything is produced with as little ecological footprint as possible or ethically but I believe it is better than the alternative.
There are several ways that people can eat organic while reducing costs. These ‘rules’ apply not only to organic but also the conventional food system.
- Buy Bulk – (remember to bring your own containers/bags). Bulk will give you savings of up 80% off buying packaged, allows you to cook more from scratch so you know how much sugar and salt is added to the end product, and sparks creativity in your diet. For example, a can of Bombay Organic Chickpeas will cost you $3.95 while the same amount of dry chickpeas (garbanzo) will cost you about 69 cents! A very simple way to save over 70% on this product. Hydrating beans is quite simple and though cooking and soaking will take many hours (soaking overnight and boiling, the process is done almost entirely without supervision. A very good investment of your time.
- Purchase less meat – meat is the place that is most concentrated with pesticides and hormones. Eat less meat and the meat you do purchase eat only certified organic and local grass-fed meat.
- Choose the elements of a meal rather than the finished convenience food – purchasing a ‘Mac & Cheese’ packaged product compared to buying bulk or big package of pasta and making your own sauce.
- Purchase case lots or full bags – if you find that you eat a lot of something then ask your store if they give volume discounts (Earth’s General Store gives 5% off the case price when people order and purchase case lots or full bags).
- Stock up when items are on sale – if you use one jar of tomato spaghetti sauce every two weeks and you see it on sale for 25% off consider buying extra (if you bought 4 the fourth would be free). Better yet ask the store if they will let you purchase a case for 25% off and compound their regular discount rate for case lots – 25% off sale then 5% off for case lot. If the sale item is perishable ensure that you store it to increase the useful life so that you minimize wastage. An item that you spend your money on and it just ends up in your compost produces expensive compost and wastes your food money.
- Grow your own – organic seeds are available (we just placed our orders for seeds) and you can grow many things in your garden or containers. Herbs can be grown indoors over the winter so you have a steady supply of fresh herbs throughout the year.
- Join a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) – this way you get local organic delivered to the city from the people that actually grow it.
- Purchase organic food from your local Farmer’s Market – the people you are purchasing the fine food from are the ones that grow it. Ask them if they are organically certified. Let them know you want organic foods.
- Sprout – grow your own sprouts in your home and this will help reduce the need to purchase so much out of season fresh vegetables like lettuce.
- Spend your organic money wisely – reduce the purchases of items that tend to be less contaminated (the clean fifteen) and spend it on items that usually have quite a high toxic load (the dirty dozen). These warnings only deal with fruits and vegetables. Non-organic meat and dairy products should be avoided.
- Eat less but better – eat more dense food, less fat, more fresh produce and less packaged/prepared. As Michael Polan said “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.” Another thing he suggests is to eat around the perimeter of the store rather than in the aisles. The perimeter is where the less processed food is displayed while the products in the aisles tend to be the more highly processed products.
- Resist impulse purchases – you would be very surprised by how much we spend on unplanned purchases. Make a list of what you plan to eat for the week and shop to create those recipes.
- Avoid overly packaged/processed foods – even certified organic! Yes, even organic food has quite a segment of the industry that makes lots of convenience food to fill our shopping cart.
- Eat in Moderation – you can’t go wrong with this old adage.
- Don’t buy too much – when you eat everything you spend your money on you will be using your food money more efficiently. Store your purchases well so that nothing gets wasted (or minimal amounts)
Conventional food is treated with pesticides, insecticides, synthetic chemicals, genes/DNA manipulate (referred to as Genetically Modified Organism – GMOs), soil and seed sterilants, and neurotoxins. All of these negatively affect the local environment and much of it travels to your plate where you and your family consume it. These chemicals add to your toxic load and eventually, your body will react by getting ill. My belief is that each and every one of us need to REDUCE this toxic load and increase overall well being by eating well but in moderation, having a balance of exercise and good healthy food and to embrace our spiritual self. To respect yourself you need to have a healthy respect for the planet and all other inhabitants. We are all connected.
Also, you have to consider – do you think that eating organic food and treating the planet with a little more respect is being a good global citizen? What value does this have in your world and beliefs? When we eat healthier foods are bodies have the resources they need to repair themselves and be healthy. This will help protect us from illness thus providing healthcare savings for ourselves and our society.