We do our best to eat organically in our house and grow our own produce where energy and head space allow it but that is a choice we have purposefully made based on a few things and a priority we have made for our own family.
Many health professionals, dieticians and clinical nutritionists are all in agreement that the state of the current agriculture system both at home and abroad is damaging the foods we are eating which in turn is damaging our health. Organic is best, and when organic is not readily available, produce bought from local growers is the next best thing.
I have found over a few years of doing cost analysis as I shopped at a whole range of places from supermarkets, to small green grocers, to online delivery services, that each grade of produce is relatively similar in price. If you are buying imported produce it will be similarly priced wherever you buy it, and same for Australian, Western Australian, and then organic grade. For a while now I have shopped at a weekend farmers market and paid the same prices for both local or organic produce as I would from a store, however it is much fresher when bought straight from the farmer.
It is an adjustment to start focussing on buying local or organic produce and takes a bit of budgeting and creative thinking to make allowance for it by spending less on other things etc but I think it is really worth it! The tips below have also been a great help for me as we've weighed up the cost of going organic.
Below is a really great article by Mandy Sacher, a Australian Paediatric Nutritionist whose website and blog are wonderful resources on family nutrition. This is her article on how to shop organically on a budget.
Mandy has also released a brilliant book called Wholesome Child: Complete Nutrition Guide & Cookbook which I will be reviewing soon for you too!
8 TIPS FOR BUYING ORGANIC ON A BUDGET
Posted by Mandy Sacher on June 25, 2016 at www.wholesomechild.com.au.
For many people concerned about pesticides, hormones and other harmful additions – organic food is worth the extra cost. But for others, the cost of organic food is something they simply can’t manage. The reality is that organic costs more for a few reasons; so in order to eat organically while sticking to a shopping budget, we’ve comprised these eight shopping tips to save your wallet, and at the same time protecting your health and the environment too!
Commit to buying your favourites
If you can’t afford to eat a diet that’s made up of nearly all organic, you can at least start with your favourite buys. Focus on your family’s staples. If you have a little carnivore who’s not keen on cheese – choose grass-fed organic meat, but buy conventionally produced dairy options. If they love apples but are not crazy about bananas – choose organic apples and don’t worry about the occasional non-organic banana. Switching to organic versions of the foods you most commonly eat will greatly reduce your family’s exposure to pesticides, chemicals, hormones and antibiotics.
Know where organic counts
Meats, dairy and sweet fruits are the most important products to ‘choose organic’. Each year, the Environmental Working Group releases its “Dirty Dozen” – the worst fruits and vegetables for pesticide exposure. It’s important not to be put off by these products (as they are nutritiously very important), so instead of avoiding them, choose organic options.
Use a grocery list
Buying only what you need will always save you money compared to browsing, so never hit the shops or farmer’s market without a shopping list. Plan all of your meals for the week, list your ingredients and only buy those products. Alternatively, shop online and avoid the temptation of even entering the store!
Shop in bulk
Ask your friends and you’ll likely discover that they too are wanting to go organic but fear the cost involved. The good news is that by buying in bulk you can save a lot, and you’ll also be saving on landfill-bound packaging. If you don’t have a friend who can share your shopping items, shop at your local bulk food stores as this can also lead to considerable savings.
Look out for discounts
Organic meat is often discounted 1-2 days before the use-by date – if this is purchased from a reputable source, it’s perfect to eat and can be frozen and used later as long as it is placed in the freezer before the use-by date. Similarly, look for discounted fruit and vegetables, which may have gotten a few bruises to the skins or need to be eaten within 1-2 days. Bruised fruits are great for smoothies, whilst bruised vegetables are perfect for soups and casseroles.
Shop at your local farmer’s market
By shopping at your local farmer’s market, not only are you guaranteed the freshest, most local produce, you’re also supporting your area’s economy. Farmer’s markets are a way for farmers to sell directly to consumers without a middleman (like a supermarket), so they often don’t charge premiums – this can mean a saving of up to 40 percent! Buying locally also allows you to avoid fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with after-harvest pesticides and waxes to help them survive the long trip.
Grow your own
If you’re serious about eating organically, the best way to do this is to grow your own. Start small with carrots, radishes and beets (which are super easy to grow) and add as you go.
Always try to minimise pesticides
Try to peel all fruits and vegetables, and remove the outer leaves of vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage. For anything you don’t peel, make sure to scrub under running water. For produce that is hard to wash such as strawberries, grapes, broccoli, lettuce, and spinach, soak them in a bowl of water and rinse again after draining. Also, try to vary the fruits and vegetables your children eat, this way the won’t be consuming the same types of pesticide residues.
Eating organically doesn’t have to break the bank, so by applying these tips and selecting your produce carefully you should be able to incorporate organic food into your shopping budget easily. You might even find that you end up saving money!
You can find Mandy at www.wholesomechild.com.au or on Instagram at @wholesome_child.