Make Organic Food Affordable

by David Ning · 5 comments

Whether you choose to get organic food because you believe in more sustainable methods of agriculture, have heard that organic foods are more nutrient dense or because of medical concerns, there are many reasons that lead people to go organic. But even if you consider organic food to be an investment in the planet’s future or in your health, you surely want to save where you can because the prices can shock you. There are several well-recognized ways to cut your organic food bill. Here are a few.

Cooperative Ventures

While other groups of people support cooperative lifestyles, for some reason, those interested in organic foods seem to have a real advantage. Purchasing your dry goods with a food co-op will often save you 30-40% right off the bat. One of the reasons you save so much is that you eliminate the middleman.

My co-op ordered monthly, and each of us had a booklet that listed everything the distributor carried. We would e-mail each other our list of the month and see who wanted to share cases of a certain product. The order would be sent in and each month someone else would drive down to the warehouse, about an hour away, and pick up everything.

Once the driver got home we all met to parcel out the goods. An additional benefit was advance knowledge regarding which items would be on sale so we could stock up for the season.

Community Supported Agriculture

All around the country, in every state, you can find farms that are part of the community supported agriculture (CSA) movement. To be certified as organic they go through a lengthy process. The certification is highly coveted in the community.

To join a CSA you purchase a share, or part of a share, of the crops produced during a given year. For example, the CSA I belonged to offered family shares that fed about four people. Couple shares that provided for two, and single shares. This farm required a donation of 10 hours in the fields as well.

Once growing season began, we would get our percentage of the week’s crops, which we would pick up at the farm. The cost worked out to about $20 a week, and we had vegetables of all sorts from April to November. Specialty items like heirloom tomatoes, organic raspberries and field fresh arugula were standard fare around the house. YUM. Some weeks we had way too much, eleven heads of lettuce one week alone. Therefore, the farm allowed members to donate what they didn’t want to a local food bank.

If the nearest CSA is several hours away, you can often arrange for them to drop the produce off at a central location where it could work if you get a group of members together.

Organic food is becoming increasingly popular. The result is a greater availability, yes, but also larger prices. Supermarkets survive on a fairly narrow margin of profit, and organics allow them to charge a bit more. Ironically, the organics at your average supermarket are long past their prime, so it really hurts to pay top dollar.

Find a food cooperative, join a CSA and enjoy fresh, inexpensive organics on your table.

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Meryl says:

    For years I have been shopping farmers markets in town, and farm stands outside of town. Many small farmers do not go through the process of being certified organic, but do not use pesticides, etc. and practice animal-friendly farming practices. Ask the right questions and you can find healthy, locally grown fresh food. Locally grown produce is often a better alternative to organic items shipped across the country.

  • Ben says:

    I have my own garden. At least most my fruits and veggies are home grown and I know what was used to help them grow. That is about as organic as I get.

  • Hello,
    I am always delighted to read online ways to make organic food more affordable. My family and I have been eating organic food for eleven years and doing it on a small budget. This inspired me to write an ebook on how to buy organic food inexpensively and create a website full of news on organics.

    I have to mention that the main reason we eat organic is because organic farming has been proven to be healthier for the planet (think water systems …) than conventional farming.

    A comment to Basic Money tips (sorry I don’t see your name), you are right there is no point in eating deep fried organic food if you want your body to be healthy.

    Indeed, I know many people who eat organic food because they already eat a healthy diet and they simply want to upgrade the quality of the food they eat and they want to reduce the impact they have on the planet.

    All the best,
    David

  • I have mixed views about organic anything. I come from a farming background (not organic) and we grew grain crops. Nothing went on the plants once they started germinating. I agree with a healthy lifestyle, but if you eat organic foods but also fried foods, are you really doing your body justice.

    I think the most important things is to add friuts and veggies to your diet. If you can go all the way organic, even better.

  • KM says:

    I have a list somewhere of fruits and vegetables that you should be buying organic (there are some that are more hype than actually gaining something) and we are growing more than half of them in our backyard, which includes apples, peaches, strawberries, plums, etc. It’s even better than organic and it costs way less (just maintenance, water, etc).

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