Organic on the Cheap

My daughter is a fanatic about feeding her family clean, organic food. She is also on a tight budget so meandering through the posh aisles of Whole Foods without a thought to the cost isn’t an option. In fact, studies show that well meaning shoppers who buy organic will end up spending ten to 30 percent more than those who buy conventionally mass produced food.

During one of our typical text fests (where we are usually speculating about such enthralling topics like who is going to hook up with whom on the daytime drama General Hospital), we also managed to come up with the following frugal tips for eating organic on the cheap:

Barter. I will do an entire blog devoted to the art of frugal bartering soon but in the meantime, figure out who has organic food to offer and what you can trade in return. My daughter has a client who raises chickens and thus she is forever trading her amazing botanicals for free range eggs.

Grow Your Own. I’ve blogged about the economic benefits of growing your own food, this being yet another one of the perks associated with growing your own. You know exactly what went into your food because you grew it yourself.

Make your own. Buy organic flour and other ingredients and make your own well, everything. From bread to cakes, condiments, desserts to main courses, organic is best but making it yourself is even better.

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Community Gardens. Check out local community gardens where you can find space to grow your own or chat up those green thumbs who may be willing to barter or trade their excess produce. This is an especially good way to grow your own if you lack the space. Most community gardens charge a very nominal fee for using the land and there are generally plenty of other avid gardeners who can give you tips and even trade your bounty with.

Farmers Markets. I absolutely love my local farmer’s market. When Bob first moved to California, I took him to my local farmer’s market where the sheer variety of beautiful, fresh and organic produce was dazzling. Frugal tip: buy less than you think you will need, it is very easy to buy too much. And go right before the market closes down when you might be able to bargain for a better price.

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Local Farms. Do an online search and look up local farms who sometimes allow locals to come and either pick their own produce or fruit or buy cheaper than you can get elsewhere.

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Big Box stores. My daughter suggested this one. She pointed out that while there are no coupons associated with the big box stores savvy shoppers can often buy organic foods at a steep discount. Again, buy less than you think you need to buy because we eat with our eyes and our eyes are metaphorically bigger than our stomachs. Show some restraint and your wallet will thank you for it.


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