It’s no secret that organic foods are the healthiest option, yet at times, they can also be pricier compared to conventional foods. To help save money, only choose organic when it comes to certain “dirty” foods, otherwise labeled by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) as the “Dirty Dozen.” These are the produce that when tested, repeatedly show the most chemicals used during growing.
The key is to stay away from as many chemicals, artificial sweeteners, additives, and preservatives as possible. The best part? Feel good knowing any additional money spent on organic foods is an investment in your health!
EWG’s Dirty Dozen list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.
EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2014 – the produce that is least likely to have pesticide residues – are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
Now that you know WHY it’s important to buy certain organic foods, learn how to save the most money when doing so:
Best Ways to Save Money on Organics:
- Be selective. Make the most of your grocery money by prioritizing organic selections from the dirty dozen list. Then you don’t have to feel so guilty about purchasing more conventional, safer produce like avocados and sweet potatoes.
- Shop around. Taking a little extra time to check out price comparisons between a few different stores will absolutely pay off.
- Consider store brand organics. Many standard grocery stores now carry their own store brand organic items, such as Greenwise from Publix. Also, buying store brand organics at chain natural food stores can save even more money on average due to the store’s larger selection.
- Cook more. It’s plain and simple: you’ll always pay more for convenience. Taking the time to prepare your own meals doesn’t have to involve loads of ingredients or effort. Check out great resources like Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet–All on $5 a Day or Less and An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace, both of which offer affordable and fun ideas for preparing organic foods, and also suggestions for what to do when cooking seems like a chore. Also, despite it’s convenience, buying pre-washed, ready to eat fruits and veggies almost always cost way more.
- Shop local. Here in the South, we’re fortunate to have a longer growing season which in turn gives us greater access to locally grown foods. A great selection of Birmingham area farmer’s markets make it easy to shop local nearly every day of the week! However, shopping local doesn’t always mean you’re buying organic. If items aren’t clearly marked one way or the other, just simply ask the vendor if they sell organic products. Eating organic also helps support a healthier environment! The average organic farm uses 30 percent less fossil fuel.
- Use coupons. Sure coupon cutting can be an extra hassle, and not to mention coupons for organics may not be as accessible in the Sunday paper as others, but there are options. Check out online resources such as this one, where you can print your own coupons very easily. Get Whole Foods coupons here, and Earth Fare coupons here. You can also shoot an e-mail to your favorite organic food providers and ask them to send you info about special offers and deals.
- Stock Up. Not every grocery store has an organic bulk foods section, but for those that do, it’s pretty much a given that you’ll spend less when you buy food in bulk. Go for foods that you snack on a lot like nuts and dried fruit, and items that store easily at home like dried beans or rice. This can even be applied to seasonal foods, which tend to be a whole lot cheaper. Stock up on seasonal fruits and veggies at your local farmer’s markets and freeze portion size servings to use at a later time. The bonus to buying in bulk? Save money and feel good knowing your purchase is reducing the overall amount of packaging that would otherwise go to landfills.