Friday, September 4, 2009

Organic Foods Cheaper

Yesterday, while driving, I heard a radio program about the high prices of organic foods. I respectfully disagree. Yes, they can be expensive. But, they don't have to be. Yes, there's heritage food products out there that you can only buy organically, and you can expect to pay dearly for them. Let's say, for instance, that you want to try some of the lesser known organic tomatoes like Mortgage Lifter or Cherokee Purple. You'll pay top dollar if that's the only type you're willing to purchase. But, there are several ways to eat organic fruits and vegetables and not pay sky high prices.
An easy way to save money and eat healthy is to grow produce yourself. Then, raise your produce using organic principles of rotating planting zones and not using pesticides. A package of seeds usually costs less than one or two helpings of the finished product. I bought a package of carrot seeds for $2.95, and even after eating them throughout the summer, I have dozens left growing in my garden. However, not everyone has the room to grow a garden. If you want to grow, but don't have a garden plot, many vegetables can be grown in pots, and even look quite nice on your patio or deck. When the deer kept eating my basil in Washington, I transplanted what was left of them into pots and arranged them on a second story deck.

OK, OK, not everyone wants to grow their own vegetables. Buying fresh, healthy produce doesn't have to be expensive. There are lots of growers out there who are willing to sell their vegetables for a fair price. Try farm stands, or seek out reputable growers at your farmer's market. They might not meet the federal "organic" guidelines, but talk with the grower and see what they do. No pesticides? Only natural fertilizer products? Perhaps they can't afford the high price for organic certification, or they haven't been farming organically long enough to be certified. However, their produce could still meet your needs, without costing a lot. Let's go back to the earlier example of paying top dollar for organically grown heritage Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. Hmmm, need tomatoes, but don't want to pay the price? How about buying Roma tomatoes grown pesticide free and fed with organic fertilizer. The price? Here, I can get them for a quarter of what I'd pay for regularly grown Roma tomatoes in the grocery store. Need to get it even cheaper? Only by serendipity ... I stumbled upon this tip just last weekend. Go to your farmer's market just before closing - farmer's want to get rid of everything before they go home, and the prices go from low to CHEAP!!! I got peppers for 10cents - when they're $1.50 each at the store. Tomatoes for 50cents - when they're close to two dollars at the store. The only problem with going late, selection isn't the best. You've got to take what you can get.

The final way to pay less for organic is to figure out which foods to buy organic, and which ones to buy non-organic. The thought is to buy organic is a food is a heavy feeder, one that absorbs lots of whatever nutrients are added. Also, to buy organic when conventionally grown products are typically grown with high amounts of pesticides, buy organic if you eat lots of one type of food. For example, I eat lots of salad - so I buy almost all of my salad fixings organic.

Here's a list of the foods that I buy organic, along with a list of those items I buy conventionally grown. This list originated from an article by noted MD Andrew Weil, who also studied botany and finds interest in the link between food and health. The list was further updated with information from a book called Buying Organic, which actually outlines which conventionally grown foods can be safely purchased.

Foods to buy Organic:
Grapes (and Raisins)
Green Beans
Foods to buy Conventional:
Skim Milk
For me, I grow my own oranges, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, green beans, and potatoes. I do like other berries, too, and always buy them organic. I also go organic with both chicken and eggs. I buy the above items organic because I eat them so frequently. Some products, like milk and yogurt, are so highly regulated already, that organic productions doesn't make much difference. Now, about buying locally - that's an animal of a different color, and is also a topic for another discussion.

1 comment:

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