You may be all gung-ho about going organic, only to have your hopes dashed when you encounter the almost-prohibitive prices of many of the organic foods out there today. From fresh to processed, they all come with some steep price tags which could burn quite the hole in an unprepared pocket.
How to go Organic
You may rue that you now have no choice but to keep eating non-organic GM foods, and that organic is a realm reserved for the rich. But wait. Before you give up completely, try some of the following ideas for go organic without having to spend a small fortune.
Go Half and Half
If you’re just starting to eat organic, then it makes sense to take it one step at a time. Sure, it’s a great idea to enthusiastically throw out everything non-organic and go cold turkey. But eating organic can be challenging, especially when it comes to finding organic foods to replace your non-organic ones. If you go all out in the beginning itself, you may find your motivation dwindling in a very short time when the challenges (and those prices!) come at you all at once. So rather than set yourself up to fail, go slow.
As you push your cart down the fresh foods aisle, pick some of your favourites from the regular section and some from the organic foods one. Now, there are some foods which, if non-organic, will impact your health more than others. So if you want to get your lifestyle on track quickly, pick organic versions of tomatoes (including ketchup and tomato juice), potatoes, corn, apples, red meat and milk.
Any savvy shopper knows that the asking price of anything will vary depending on where you go. A white T-shirt will have a different price depending on whether it’s being sold by a boutique or a street hawker. It’s no different with organic foods. You have to know where to go to get the best deal. This, of course, takes time. It may take up to a year to discover places that firstly sell organic, and then the ones that sell organic cheaply.
Plan Your Meals
Usually, you plan what you want to eat and then go out and buy the ingredients. You may have to try a slightly different tactic if you are trying to eat organic on a budget. First, go buy the most affordable organic options around. Bring them home. Then figure out your meal plans using those ingredients. Yes, it may feel a little restrictive, but in time you’ll become an expert at whipping up meals with the affordable organic foods in your kitchen.
Join a Co-op
This is a great way to make organic purchases easier but also to build a sense of community. Get together with a few people who live in your apartment building, neighbourhood, locality, or even your friends who are spread across the city. This group of people will be your co-op. Figure out where you can buy organic foods at wholesale prices. With wholesale, the more you buy the cheaper it gets. You may not need 20 kilos of potatoes, but it could easily be split between you and the members of your co-op. If you pool your resources, everyone will make immense savings not just on the cost of food but also on travel. Not to mention the sense of purpose that comes from being a part of a world-changing group! And make no mistake, small as this step is when seen from a global point of view, it does change the world.
Visit Farmer’s Markets
A farmer’s market is where organic farmers congregate to sell their produce directly to whoever comes to the market. This cuts out on the need of a middleman, giving both the farmer and the consumer a good deal. Of course, this is not as economic as going to a wholesale market but it will still make quite a difference. Plus, it’s a lot of fun. Plus, you get introduced to a whole new ‘organic’ world as these markets with the multitude of baked goods, meals, clothes, shoes, snacks and treats – all organic – that are also commonly sold there.
Grow your Own Organic Food
This option is a conclusion you will naturally come to when you’ve eaten organic for awhile and especially if organic food is not easily available where you are. The next best thing is to make your own food, be your own farmer. Fortunately, starting a small kitchen garden does not require all that much space and, if you’re smart, you’ll be able to accommodate one even in a cramped city apartment.
You may initially feel a little overwhelmed when looking for organic seeds and setting it all up. But start small and you should be OK. Chilli, tomatoes, lemons, wheatgrass, coriander, mint, potatoes – these are all really easy to grow and will do well even if you don’t have that much of a green thumb. Of course, it takes a little work, but then everything that is worth anything does, no? If you believe that your health is worth the effort, then you’ll make it happen.
If you find growing your own food too challenging, look for someone who has managed to do so and ask them if they’ll sell to you. This option is also useful in places where farmers’ markets don’t exist.
Another idea is to get together with a few people (sort of like your co-op) and grow a variety of foods together. You can rent out a piece of land together, use one that is already owned by a member of the co-op, or continue in your respective kitchens but split the burden. All harvested foods can be split evenly between members of your group. You’ll be building community values, connecting with like-minded people, getting some exercise, learning new skills and taking positive steps toward your long-term health.
Going organic is not out of reach. No matter what your budget, you can figure something out. Sure, you may not be able to eat organic all the time if you are really hard up, but every little thing you do will count.