Organic food has a reputation: It’s better for you, but expensive. In part this is because less than 1% of U.S. farm acreage produces certified organic foods, even as sales of organic produce rise. But while it’s true that conventionally grown produce is cheaper, it’s still possible to eat organic on a budget. If you want to add more organic foods to your diet, here’s how to get the most bang for your buck.
Perhaps the tip that will save you the most money is to buy in-season produce. Not only is out-of-season produce more expensive, but it has to travel farther to get to your grocery store. This means it isn’t as good for the environment. Of course, produce varies by location, but this handy list can serve as a guide if you aren’t sure what’s in season.
Each year, the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the produce most likely to be contaminated with pesticides. If you can’t buy all organic foods, you could instead focus on the “Dirty Dozen” and instead get the organic, pesticide-free versions. This year’s list includes strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes, and hot peppers.
Throughout the spring and summer, many communities host farmers markets. These are a great way to get fresh, local, organic produce. Prices may be a little higher than your grocery store’s, but you may still be able to get deals on what you buy. Some markets even have an EBT incentive where you can receive $10 if you spend $10.
Since buying organic is such a popular option these days, more and more stores are rising to meet demand. Some stores have begun stocking their own organic brands. For example, look for GreenWise products at Publix and O Organics items at Albertsons stores like Vons, Shaw’s, and Safeway.
In addition to farmers markets, some communities offer community supported agriculture programs. (These are also called CSAs or farmshares.) These programs are essentially a subscription service for seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s good for you, and good for local, sustainable farming.
Though there’s a popular belief that frozen vegetables aren’t as good for you as fresh veggies, this isn’t true. Some foods are actually more nutritious after they’ve been frozen because they’ve been frozen at the peak of ripeness. Try looking for the USDA-certified organic label next time you visit the frozen food aisle!
Want to save even more money on everyday items? Check out our roundup of this week’s best discounts!