I've written before about the importance of eating organic foods. Organic foods are richer in vitamins and minerals than conventional foods. Eating organically minimizes your exposure to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. And organic farming practices are healthier for our environment.
Organic foods usually cost more, though, and in hard economic times it can be especially difficult to justify the extra expense. Fortunately, there are several ways to get the most "bang for your buck" when it comes to making this healthy choice.
1. Be flexible and shop the sales: Shop for an entire week in a single trip. Going shopping once a week decreases the amount of driving you have to do, saving you time and money. And whether you are at a "conventional" grocery store or a "natural" one, you can plan your weekly meals around the foods that are on sale. Shopping the sales will allow you to buy more organic food.
2. Use coupons: Stores and organic food manufacturers offer coupons in flyers, newspapers and online. Some stores will also double coupons, increasing your savings.
3. Buy in bulk: Many foods such as grains, beans, nuts and dried fruits are significantly less expensive if you purchase them in bulk rather than buying them prepackaged. Natural food stores generally have a wide selection of bulk foods, but conventional stores are beginning to add bulk departments as well.
4. Buy the store brand: Some stores carry their own organic lines. Whole Foods and Safeway are two stores that come to mind. Store brand products usually cost less than other brands.
5. Use the Environmental Working Group's Shopper's Guide to help you choose the most important fruits and vegetables to buy organically, or if you cannot afford organic produce, which fruits and vegetables you should emphasize in your diet instead. From the EWG website:
"An EWG simulation of thousands of consumers eating high and low pesticide diets shows that people can lower their pesticide exposure by almost 80 percent by avoiding the top twelve most contaminated fruits and vegetables and eating the least contaminated instead."
As we increase our awareness of the benefits of organic food, demand will increase and the cost of organically grown food will go down. Until then, a little flexiblity, planning and smart shopping will help you eat well with less of a pinch on your wallet.