Opting for an organic lifestyle can be a challenge. With the market filled with processed products, genetically modified (GMO) and biotech foods, it is not easy to find truly organic food items. Couple this with a common notion that organic food items are expensive, and it seems that enjoying healthy food without worrying about your bank account is an elusive dream.
Despair not. Eating healthy can be done. Here’s how to avoid GMO food while on a budget.
1. Know what you eat
Genetically modified foods are those derived from organisms that have undergone unnatural changes in their DNA through genetic engineering. This engineering of crops is performed to increase yield or make the plant resistant to certain pesticides. Corn, tomato, potato, canola, beet sugar, wheat, and soybean are the most commonly altered produce.
The World Health Organization (WHO), says these are safe to eat but issues on food safety are becoming more pronounced. In fact, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has put stringent regulations on modified foods, aiming to ban food deemed to be threats to public safety. To be safe from these, look for foods with the Non-GMO Project verification as these have undergone a rigorous inspection to assure safety for consumption.
2. Budget and prioritize
Knowing what you need and planning what you eat can help you cut down on food costs as it helps you focus on what is important. So make a shopping list before you head to the grocery store to avoid impulse buying.
3. Join cooperatives
Joining food cooperatives requires a membership fee but this is a worthy investment in the long run because most of the cooperatives offer members-only sales and rewards.
4. Look for sales and coupons
Extreme couponing strategies or the combination of shopping for sales and using coupons can make further reductions in the price of certain produce. This strategy can be done online through sites that offer sale-and-coupon promos on some organic products.
5. Buy in bulk
Food stores such as Whole Foods sell products such as spices, grains, and nuts in bulk. The upside of this is that you have control over the quantity that you will purchase. In addition, with the unpredictable and fluctuating prices of goods, bulk buying can save you money each month.
If you buy fresh produce in bulk, cut them up and freeze for later use, but make sure to label them with a date and eat within 6 months to avoid nutrient loss. You could also scan the stores for foods close to their expiration date. Most stores will reduce their price, but make sure to eat them straight away.
Scroll down for more tips and tricks to live an organic lifestyle without breaking the bank.
6. Know where to shop
Consumer Reports says there are three stores that offer the best overall prices on organic foods. These are:
- Trader Joe’s – This California-based chain has 400 stores across the state. It boasts of many organic items at bargain prices. Most of the products sold here are house brands and are guaranteed to be free of genetically modified organisms.
- Wegmans – Bound by their motto “Eat well, live well,” the store assures the public of high quality and organic foods. Its own brand, Wegmans Organic, boast of a wide array of organic produce.
- Costco – This chain requires a membership fee but guarantees its members of access to a wide array of bargain-priced products. Its Kirkland Signature, a house brand, offers the best value for your money.
Or even better, visit your local farmers market for the best and local quality.
You can also buy from farmers. With the absence of a middleman, buying directly from farmers is an effective way to save money and to ensure the quality of the produce. PickYourOwn.org, for instance, allows you to choose your own fruit and vegetables for a fixed price per pound — a rate that is lower than the usual retail price.
7. Look further than your grocery bill
Statics show that people who buy organic food will spend about 20% more, but these people are more likely to spend less money overall if you take medical and pharmacy bills into account.
8. No need to go organic all the way
If your budget is tight, going 100% organic isn’t a must. Some whole foods available on the market today are more polluted than others. The Environmental Working Group offers an excellent list which can help you to choose which foods you should buy organic if going 100% organic is not possible for you.
9. Grow your own food
This is maybe the easiest way to make sure you are eating GMO- and pesticide-free food….. and gardening works therapeutic as well 😉 And if you don’t have a garden… your balcony will do just fine to grow your own food.
10. Eat less meat
If you are not a vegetarian or vegan already try and eat less meat. This will save a lot of money which can be spent on organic foods…. and it is good for our planet as well! Joining the Meatless Monday bandwagon is a good place to start…. and with so many vegetarians and vegans around there are plenty of recipes available that will amaze your family’s taste buds. Check out the recipe section for some inspiration.
What are your tips and tricks to buy organic food without breaking the bank? Share them with us in the comment box below. Your feedback is much appreciated!
Thanks for reading. I hope this information was helpful. Until next time!
Crazy cat lady, life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach.