Is eating organic food important to you? I don't like the thought of all of the pesticides, synthetic hormones and antibiotics passing through to my family, especially my two young children. So we eat a fair amount of organic, especially during the summer harvest. Have you ever eaten an organic, local, ripe strawberry?...heaven on earth.
Does the price of organic make you not buy as much as you would like? Eating organically can be expensive, so I am always looking for ways to save money on organic food.
When it comes to organic food, everyone's line in the sand is different. I have friends who are adament about eating only organic food and I have friends where eating organic is not a priority. We fall somewhere in between.
Here are 6 tips that I use to help us afford organic food:
1. Community Supported Agriculture or CSA.
A CSA is a commitment between local farmer/s and community members who pay the farmer for a seasonal membership. Each week the member receives a pre-purchased and pre-determined amount of produce and the farmer receives upfront money to run their operation. Some CSAs might require the members to volunteer hours on the farm in return for the produce.
We have been a member of a CSA for 9 years and it is the most cost-effective way for us to afford organic produce. During the May-November harvest season, we receive a weekly share of produce. Most of the produce that we consume during those months comes from the CSA. We supplement with produce we grow ourselves and I rarely need to buy produce at the grocery store during those months.
This year's price for our half-share comes to about $14.21 a week in organic produce. Obviously, prices will differ by farm. The above photo is an example of our weekly share in August when the box is full of high summer produce.
Our CSA also offers ‘OPEN Farm Days’ one Saturday each month during the harvest season. On these days, members can pick up any free extra produce that the farm has an overrun on. They also offer some extra produce at an extremely reduced rate. Last year I bought several 19 pound boxes of organic roma tomatoes for $6 each. Again, each CSA will operate differently.
I found a CSA farm directory, but you should also google to find one in your area.
2. Consider your grocery store's private label organic brand.
Just like non-organic food items, I always try the store brand to see if I/we like it. My good friend loves our store's private label vanilla organic yogurt and I didn’t care for it and went back to my beloved Stonyfield French Vanilla yogurt. Although, I don’t mind the store brand organic milk and that is usually what I purchase unless I have a brand coupon that makes the price better. It is a matter of preference, but worth some comparison shopping.
Here is a quick price comparison on a recent grocery trip:
- Name brand 32 oz. organic yogurt $2.99 vs. store brand 32 oz organic yogurt $2.53.
- Name brand half gallon of organic milk $4.05 vs. store brand half gallon organic milk $3.49
3. Compare price per unit and if the size makes sense go for the best price per unit.
- Stonyfield Organic yogurt, 32 oz @ $2.99 = $1.50/lb, 6 oz cups @ .79 cents = $2.11/lb.
- Horizon Organic Milk - half gallon @ $4.05, gallon @ $5.99
4. Look for organic or natural meat that has been marked down.
Marked down poultry or meat is safe as long as you use it or freeze immediately after you buy it. I wrote about marked down meat before and I regularly find this type of poultry or meat marked down at my store.
5. Visit your local farmers markets for organic produce, meat, poultry and dairy.
6. Visit the websites of companies that you enjoy.
Go to the websites of your favorite organic companies to look for coupons. Here are some links to a few organic sites that offer coupons. Generally there is a limit, but it usually resets every month.
How important is buying organic food to you? Do you have any tips for saving money on organic food? Let us know in the comments.
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This post is linked to Your Green Resource at A Delightful Home and Frugal Friday at Life as MOM.