|Image via Wikipedia|
|Local organic produce|
Organic foods still cost more than produce sprayed with pesticides. It may always be so: organic farms tend to be smaller and more labor intensive. But that's no reason to give up on providing your family safer produce.
Here are some food budget tips (with an assist from Lindsey Siegele, Mother Earth News).
1. Pick and Choose Your Organics:
Some foods pick up and retain more pesticide than others. The Environmental Working Group has a "Dirty Dozen" list ~ fruits and vegetables that have the highest pesticide levels. Print out their Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides and you'll also get the "Clean 15" list of the produce that's had the least contact with pesticides. You'll be able to make informed decisions about which produce to buy organic.
2. Buy and Plan Meals Around In-Season Organics:
Fruits and vegetables tend to be of higher quality and less costly during the times when they are most abundant. At first, it may seem harder to plan meals from October to May, but once you tune into root vegetables, cauliflower, etc., you will never want to eat "long-distance" produce again ~ the taste and texture are that much better.
3. Consider Cutting Back on Meat ~ Just a Little
Meat is a high-quality protein, but Americans make a fetish of eating it two or three times a day and/or in massive amounts. Smaller meat portions and learning to flavor your food (e.g., rice and vegetables) with meat are healthier choices as well as great ways to afford more organic fruits and vegetables.
4. Buy Local Organics First:
Your local farmers' market has great deals on organic produce, because it's farm-direct to you. Community supported agriculture not only gives you the best deals on local fruits and vegetables, it is also a way to help a local farmer stay in business. Everything will be organic, local, affordable and handy. Find Farmers' Markets and CSAs at Local Harvest or PickYourOwn.org
Image via Wikipedia5. Know Your Organics ~ USDA vs. Farmer John's:
Foods labeled "USDA Organic" may have traveled a great distance to get to your store; they will not be as fresh or tasty as organics from a local source. As much as possible, support "Farmer John" down the road. The number of small farms is growing ~ you may be surprised at what's available locally.
6. Join or Create a Food-Buying Club:
Buying in larger amounts, whether at Whole Foods or from a food wholesaler almost always saves you money. Group buying is a great way to afford more organic produce, and you'll meet like-minded people at the same time. For advice on how to start a food-buying club, read the article at VegFamily.com.
7. Buy in Bulk ~ Pickle and Preserve:
If you want organic tomatoes, apricots, etc. when winter comes, do what Grandma did ~ buy a bushel (or a peck) of your favorite when it's in season. Then can, dry or pickle it. To learn about canning, try Home Canning Basics, and for food drying how-tos, Reap the Garden & Market Bounty.
8. Grow Your Own:
|Image via Wikipedia|
The best way to know what you're eating is to grow it yourself. At least for some crops, it can be much cheaper and you can plant what you like to eat. Even a windowsill herb garden creates fresh ingredients and saves food money. There is also great satisfaction in bringing something you've grown yourself into the kitchen.
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