Do you want to buy more organic food, but are afraid that it will mean spending a lot more money? While organic food can cost quite a bit more than conventional foods that are grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the price differences can vary from food to food and there are many opportunities to find more affordable organic foods. Here are just some ways our family saves on our food bill while still eating healthy organic food:
- Plan ahead on what you want to buy organic and focus on getting the best deals for those items by shopping around various stores and vendors.
- You also want to prioritize what you want to purchase organic. Depending on what you and your family’s preferences are, you may want to focus on buying organic foods for items that are on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen, which are the foods that often contain the highest levels of pesticide residues in their conventional versions. You may also want to focus on purchasing meats, eggs, and dairy products that have been humanely produced. Or you may want to eat locally and organically produced products. Or you may want to simply purchase as much organic food as you can! Whatever your preferences are, keep them in mind when you are shopping.
- Buy in bulk. Many vendors (including online vendors and farmers) offer discounts when you purchase in bulk. If your family isn’t able to meet the minimum quota, consider asking your friends and families to join in on a buy. There are also many group buys now on Facebook. This is my favourite way to order meat and dried goods.
- Learn to read labels and get in the habit of reading labels. Also ask the vendor questions about what their various terms really mean. This will help you understand what is really worth spending your money on. For example, did you know that while organic chickens and cows eat organic feed and are not given antibiotics, they are often raised in confinement? The same is true for chickens and cows fed vegetarian feed. Healthier and more humane choices are organic AND pasture-raised chickens and grass-fed cows, as they actually obtain more nutrients and spend plenty of time outdoors. To learn more about what organic, natural, grass-fed and other marketing terms mean, read this article that I wrote.
- Cut out the middleman and buy direct from farmers through farmers’ markets or community supported agriculture (CSA) programs where you prepay a subscription to a farmer’s produce for the season, or pick your own produce at a farm. There are lots of farmers’ markets, CSA programs, and U-Pick farms throughout Metro Vancouver, and they are typically a lot more affordable than buying from a store. Depending on the food item, it can be even cheaper than a conventional version of the food item, and much fresher! You also have the opportunity to ask questions about how the food is grown. And, to top it off, many CSA programs offer home delivery! You’ll find some of my favourites listed here.
- Grow your own food! When you grow your own food, you know exactly what has gone into them. Plus, your kids can join in and help out, and learn first-hand where their food comes from. If you’re new to gardening and want to learn from a pro on how best to start a garden, there are many workshops offered through Metro Vancouver. Check out your local community centre, neighbourhood house, or one of these options: