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3 Tips for Eating Organic On A Budget


This topic is near and dear to my heart, for all those who feel defeated when they contemplate going sustainable or organic and believe they just can’t afford it (especially in this economy). There are many ways to achieve a goal, and I believe anything you really want to do begins with the earnest desire to do it.

I was just telling someone this week about how much more sustainable the food in our house is now than it was 6 years ago when I really started to go through my kitchen and throw garbage out, and was concerned about paying attention to where my food was coming from. Back then our family had a steady income, my husband was a programmer for a dental insurance company. He didn’t like his job, but felt he needed to stay so we could continue to pay our mortgage, other bills, and feed our family.

Now we are both self-employed. We own a solar installation/sales business (Treasure Valley Solar and 42solar.com – our online solar catalog) and green IT (TVS Green Tech – information technology). We are dedicated to finding energy efficiency solutions for people, as well as maintain and support computer systems for people that use smart technology and save money by utilizing the latest in efficient equipment. Oh, and I’m now getting paid to do nutrition/health writing for several remote clients, which is awesome. Our main business has been slow, and we’ve had periods of time with no paycheck (for months, in fact). But we have made it our goal to afford healthy food and made it our number one priority, period. It has been difficult, but so far the three of us (me, my husband, and 10-year-old son) have managed not to starve even once, and still for the most part, we are eating sustainably.

Ruth Ann Bowen is the cultivator of Nurturing Naturally, who along with co-founder Rebecca Wirtz, host an online community helping connect yesterday’s pantry to today’s kitchen. “We show people how to integrate modern day convenience with time-tested traditions of the past.” I was delighted to “meet” Ruth online just last week, and went to look at her web site, which I love. Together Ruth and Rebecca share advice and recipes focused on helping people get out of the fast lane and back in the kitchen…and garden.

I want to extend my thanks to Ruth Ann for offering to help me out this week when I’m on a writing project deadline (what Godsend!) and have no time for my blog, and also express how much I appreciate what she and Rebecca do for the sustainable food community. I hope you’ll enjoy this guest post that she graciously agreed to write for Agriculture Society. I promise to return the favor when I am less occupied…soon!


“Organic food is so expensive!” That’s usually the first response we get when discussing the topic of organic food. We’ve spent many hours scouring and searching for organic deals and we’ve discovered these three tips for buying organic food on a budget. A few caveats, however, before we launch into our tips: First, we highly recommend frequenting your local farm markets for fresh produce. The quality is so much greater and we believe in fully supporting small farmers. Second, if you are able, grow your own garden! This is by far the cheapest way to feed your family nutrient dense, pesticide-free food. Third, when it comes to meat, we prefer buying a grass-fed cow from a local farm you trust. But knowing these aren’t an option for everyone, here are three ways we’ve found to enjoy a budget-friendly, organic household:

1. Think outside the grocery store.

Most large grocery stores feature an organic section these days. But many times, they aren’t the best place for deals. We’ve discovered stores like Big Lots http://www.biglots.com/ and Ollie’s http://www.olliesbargainoutlet.com/default.aspx carry a selection of organic products at greatly reduced prices. And we’ve been pleasantly surprised at the selection they offer including organic pasta, organic tea, organic cereal, organic soups, etc. all at great discounts.

Since discount stores won’t carry everything, check on-line for organic deals as well. We purchase quite at bit from Vitacost.com and we frequent a local organic food warehouse, Frankferd Farms who also features an online catalog.

2. Buy in Bulk

When you do find a good deal, buy in large quantities. There are two reasons for this: 1. To keep a good stock on hand (which is always a good idea), and 2. If you find a deal at a discount store, they may not carry that item again for awhile. These stores will buyout from manufacturers when they have overstocked on things, so get the bargain while you can. I have a friend who bought an entire box of the above-mentioned chicken stock and now I wish I had, too!

3. Check your cart

When discussing the price of organic food, take a look at your buying habits. Do you still have soda, chips, and canned soups in your cart? When organic food is just an add-on that’s when people see their grocery bill go up. Here’s a cost comparison of what approximately $20.00 could buy at our local western Pennsylvania supermarket, Giant Eagle:

Mainstream/Standard American Grocery Cart

6 pack of Coke in plastic bottles–$4.99
12 oz. Family Size (their description) Doritos–$3.99
4 pack Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup–$4.49
Giant Eagle brand diced peaches in juice (notice they didn’t say “syrup”)—2/$4.00
Edy’s Ice Cream (1.5 qt)–$3.33 (sale price)

TOTAL: $20.80

Organic Grocery Cart

Nature’s Basket 90% lean Ground Beef, 1 lb.—$4.72
Nature’s Basket Whole Chicken, 5.28 lb–$8.92
Organic Bartlett Pears, 1.92 lb–$2.48
Organic Red Delicious Apples, 1.52 lb.–$3.02
Organic Red Grapes, 2.22 lb.—$6.64

TOTAL: $21.06

Don’t just look at the dollar amount, though. Look at the actual items. The items in the organic cart are far more healthy and filling than soda and chips. So, if you have $20.00 to spend, why not spend it on healthier food that will fill you up? By ditching the soda, chips, ice cream, etc. you’ll find filling your cart with organic isn’t as expensive as once thought!

Finding organic food bargains is possible. And with these tips in hand, you’ll be on your way to a healthier body, slimmer waistline–and a fatter wallet–in no time.

Want more ideas for saving money on real food?

Is cheap food really cheap? The hidden costs of industrial food

Waste not, want not – tips for saving in the kitchen

Food budgets – using creativity and prioritizing for healthy eating

Sustainable farming – is it practical and can it feed us all?

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday hop (this week featured on GNOWFLGLINS).

Healthy Living

Are You Addicted To Healthy Food Shopping?


I have to admit, one of my favorite things to do is go to the health food store and shop for healthy food. Yes, it sounds very geeky, and I guess it probably is.

I also enjoy going to the farmer’s market, although I don’t get there as often as I’d like. Some of the foods I buy regularly that are sold at the farmer’s market are also sold at the health food store where I shop, and because the times the farmer’s market are occurring are times I don’t typically shop, my visits are fewer and further between. That’s not to say I don’t love the farmer’s market too, because I most certainly do.

The other factor is that in our city, food at the farmer’s market tends to be more expensive. In these tough economic times, and because my husband and I have recently switched gears and started a new solar business, we are watching every dime we spend.

So I started thinking about addictions that people have and wondered just how many different kinds there were, and how varied those addictions could be. I realized that there are endless things people can become addicted to…and that if you replace something unhealthy for something healthy, it’s got to be a definite improvement.

It’s easy to say to yourself that you are replacing something unhealthy for something healthy – but it’s another thing entirely to actually put it into action. And, it’s another thing entirely to actually do something healthy. In a society where we are so health obsessed but so unhealthy, the term “healthy” is used ubiquitously…but its true meaning has been degraded.

For instance, if you say you are going to replace eating meat for eating “low fat foods” to “lower your cholesterol”, that replacement will be detrimental to your health because it will deprive your body of important nutrients necessary for all types of bodily functions such as maintaining normal weight and cardiovascular health. But of course, most people believe the opposite to be true. Remember, it’s important to learn what is healthy and what is not.

Habits are difficult to break, but if you can take a negative or unhealthy lifestyle habit that isn’t working for you, perhaps it’s just a simple matter of trading one thing for something else  – to fill that void where the negative thing once existed, and in its place install something that affects you in a positive way.

Because variety is the spice of life, you can fill up your “void” with all the wonderful variety of delicious, healthy foods and choices. Don’t think that because you are giving up something you once loved that is bad for you that there isn’t something equally as wonderful waiting in the wings that is good for you.

Addicted to junk?

For instance, if you are addicted to eating cookies from the dessert aisle at the grocery store, what could you do to replace this unhealthy choice? First, make sure you are eating a healthy diet. Cravings for carbohydrates often mean a yeast overgrowth which is actually caused by eating too much refined sugar and processed carbohydrates in the first place.  So, you are not getting full (and also not getting enough nutrients, period). Because of the yeast, you are developing cravings for carbohydrates – particularly the processed variety, which feed the yeast.

There are several things you can do, depending on your desire to make changes in your eating habits and health. You can start on a yeast removal program, which involves removing most carbohydrates from your diet for a period of time and taking dietary supplements to kill the yeast. This can be difficult to do, but well worth the effort.

If you are not ready for a yeast removal protocol at this time, you can think about the things you can replace the unhealthy dessert with such as home-made desserts. When you make things at home, you have control over what you put in and how much you use. Home made desserts provide the opportunity to use less sugar and alternatives to sugar that are healthier such as: real maple syrup, organic unrefined sugar, sucanat, rapadura, or Lakanto (Body Ecology diet).

Other ingredients you can start to use which would replace the unhealthy items in store-bought desserts and confections would be sprouted grain flours, real fats like extra virgin coconut oil and palm oil, and butter.

And this should go without saying, but if you are making your own treats at home, use other real ingredients like organic fruit, eggs from pastured hens, sea salt, real cream, real vanilla, and unrefined organic raw nuts or cacao powder.

The bright side of healthy food addiction

Sure, many healthy foods tend to be more expensive. But buying cheap food has hidden costs. The smart consumer knows that paying more for healthy food now means less health problems later. Eating industrial food has its price – and that price is what you will have to pay later for health damage incurred because of eating it. One of the advantages to being a healthy shopping “addict” is the fact that it gives you an opportunity (hopefully) to be more aware of what foods and products are truly healthy. It probably means you are more likely to do the necessary research to find what you need that is not only the healthiest choice, but also at the best price available. In other words, your interest in healthy food and living leads you to become a sleuth – not only to find the best deals but to uncover the truth about what’s healthy to eat and what’s not!

Having an awareness of healthy food will give you the opportunity to find better foods for yourself and your family – which means many good things – such as enjoying foods you love, exploring new cooking techniques, methods, and recipes, and sharing the food with those around you. One of the best benefits of loving healthy food, is of course, the many health benefits you will gain from eating the food in the first place.

So if you are a person who becomes giddy with excitement at the prospect of spending some time shopping at your favorite health food store, farmer’s market, or online scouting for the best in healthy food at a good price, embrace it! If you love the idea of finding good deals on organic, local, and sustainable foods, let that desire become the foundation of a healthy diet.

It also means you will more than likely develop relationships with others who share your interest and zest for finding healthy food and feeding nutritious meals to your family.  This development can only help to increase your knowledge, network, and opportunities to find more healthy items to add to your menu and schedule for a healthier life.

And don’t forget, as far as addictions go, possessing one for the love of shopping for healthy food can work in your favor – unlike many other addictions you could have!

Need some ideas for where to get healthy foods on the Internet and in the stores?

Here’s a list:

U.S. Wellness Meats - Meats, dairy products, poultry, game meats, soaps, candles and many other great, natural products

Eat Wild – directory of pastured products such as meat, dairy, poultry, honey, produce and much more

Eat Well – directory of sustainable, local, organic food growers and sellers

Azure Standard – quality bulk and natural foods

Pure Indian Foods – grass-fed ghee

Sol Grains – germinated brown rice

Local Harvest – sprouted flour and many other natural food products

American Spice - sprouted flours and other foods

Green Pastures -fermented cod liver oil, butter oil, organic coconut ghee, fermented skate oil, and organic virgin coconut oil

U.S. Wellness Meats – grass-fed meat, game, pork, lamb, pasture-raised poultry, raw cheese, sustainable seafood, healthy snacks, and more

Shilo Farms – sprouted and organic flour, rice, honey, rice beans, cereal, couscous, goat cheese, seeds, soups, and more

For more sprouted grain products, visit the list at the bottom of What are Sprouted and Soaked Grains?

Cultures for Health – starter cultures for making kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, lacto-fermented vegetables, and other fermented foods, buttermilk starter, sourdough starter, cheese making

Organic Pastures – sells certified grass-fed, organic milk to California residents only, also sells raw almonds

Organic Valley and Organic Prairie - certified organic pasture-raised meats, eggs from pastured hens, dairy products, and more

Trader’s Point Creamery – 100% organic grass-fed milk and milk products – their yogurt is to die for!

Nancy’s Yogurt - organic dairy products from grass-fed cows

Stonyfield Farm – organic, grass-fed dairy products

Brown Cow Farm- organic grass-fed dairy products

Kerrygold – Irish butter, grass-fed!

Zukay – live, cultured foods bursting with probiotics such as sauerkraut, salsas, and lacto-fermented vegetables

This article is part of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Fridays Carnival. Please visit this site and read all the other great real food articles listed there.