How-to: Buy organic food on a budget

By Audrey Bonfig, CG Lifestyles & People

Substituting even a few organic items in your weekly groceries has a huge impact on your health and the planet. Image by Audrey Bonfig.

Substituting even a few organic items in your weekly groceries has a huge impact on your health and the planet. Image by Audrey Bonfig.

In this unstable economy, every dollar saved is crucial and knowing how to be a smart shopper has become something of a requirement. This is especially true of grocery shopping, where prices seem to be rising day-by-day.

In (almost) every grocery store, there is always a shelf or two with a big sign that clearly reads organic on it. But what exactly does ‘organic’ mean, and why does it merit its own shelves, away from everything else?

Organic basically means that that particular food has not been touched by anything synthetic or man made, this can include anything from pesticides, to additives, to chemical fertilizers. Many decide to buy organic because studies have shown that it’s better for the environment, producing less waste and using less energy than non-organic foods.

Others do it because they like the idea of consuming foods that have not been touched by chemicals or pesticides. But whatever the reason, organic food is still more expensive than regular food, and that’s not always good for a tight budget.

So, if you’re a poor college student who likes the idea of eating organic but isn’t sure if you can afford it, here are a few helpful pointers to help make buying organic easier on your wallet:

  • Only buy things organic if they do not have a peel. This includes fruits like strawberries and blueberries and vegetables like peppers and celery. Most of the residues and pesticides tend to accumulate on the surface of the food, so if you can’t remove that surface, buy organic.
  • Buy organic versions of the foods that you eat most often. You’ll save more money if you buy organic food that you’ll eat frequently, than buying organic food that you don’t eat and let go to waste.
  • Don’t be afraid to buy local, locally grown produce is usually cheaper than buying organic at a store. An added plus is that as you get to better know local growers, they may be willing to work out discounts or special rates with you.
  • Do your research! There are many good websites out there that will tell you which fruits and vegetables are sprayed with which pesticides and which are more harmful than others. For example, if you can buy nothing else organic buy organic lettuce, since leafy greens are known to be sprayed with the worst pesticides known to man.

Happy eating!

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