Yes, Affordable Organic Food is Possible…
If you’ve decided to “take the GMO-free plunge” for yourself or your family, the first difference you’re going to notice is the cost: organic food almost always costs more than conventional food. How can individuals and families make organic, GMO-free food more affordable?
Here are 10 helpful ideas to make “going organic / GMO-free” a little easier on your pocketbook…
Don’t go “cold-turkey” right away… take it in baby steps. If your children drink milk regularly, start by choosing organic milk. Then add in a bulk bag of organic apples for a healthy snack.
As you continue adjusting to the gradual shift in your monthly grocery budget, begin buying more organic produce. We recommend starting with the types of produce that require or absorb more pesticides when grown conventionally, such as lettuce, apples, peaches, bell peppers, potatoes, celery and strawberries.
Many families already know the value of buying in bulk. However if you’re shopping for only one or two people, buying bulk foodstuffs may not seem feasible… try finding a neighbor or family member willing to split bulk food items with you.
The most common organic bulk produce in larger grocery chains are big mesh bags of organic apples.
When you get to the cereal aisle, look on the bottom shelf for bulk bags of breakfast cereal—if you don’t see any with a USDA Organic label on the bag, don’t hesitate to ask the store manager if they’d consider stocking a brand or two. Grocery stores are getting increasing pressure to bring in more organics… your voice counts!
In addition to the organic produce section, many national grocery chains have created their own in-house organic line that is priced below national organic brands. Examples include Safeway’s “O” organic line, Shaw’s “Wild Harvest” organic line, Publix “Greenwise” organic line, Aldi’s “SimplyNature” organic line, Trader Joe’s organic products (many of which now bear a USDA Organic label), and more recently, Walmart’s “Wild Oats” brand (which they are promising will “drive down the price of organics”).
4) Buy at a warehouse discount store
If you haven’t been to Costco lately, you might be surprised to see how many organic options they’re stocking these days—depending on what area of the U.S. you’re in, and how far you have to drive to get to the nearest Costco.
During a visit to one local Costco store, we counted more than 200 organic brands, ranging from milk, eggs, cereal and sugar for breakfast, to peanut butter, jam, chips, fresh fruit, lunchmeat, and bread for school lunches, to dinner staples like fresh organic chicken, pasta, quinoa, spaghetti sauce, soup, broth, and both fresh and canned organic vegetables.
Check out all of the possibilities on this page of our website.
6) Join an organic co-op
If there’s an organic, co-op-style grocery store within reasonable driving distance, and if its membership benefits make financial sense for you, this can be a great way to save money on organics.
One such example is the PCC Market chain in the Seattle area. For a one-time $50 membership fee, you receive two “10% off your entire purchase” coupons upon joining, followed by one “10% off everything” coupon each month, plus two additional 5% member discount days each month.
7) Join a local CSA
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs deliver a box filled with organic vegetables (and sometimes other foodstuffs) direct from local area farms to your doorstep (or a central location in your neighborhood) on a regular basis for a minimal cost (usually around $20).
If you’ve got some outdoor space with sunshine, even if it’s just a patio, deck, or parking strip, plant some container vegetables or a small garden. Even a couple tomato plants, bush-style green beans, or cucumbers can help add some bounty to your kitchen larder.
If you’ve got no space to grow, see if there’s a local community garden plot near you that might have some available space. And don’t forget to check out this excellent resource page listing GMO-free seeds state-by-state, then get started with the helpful “how to start your first garden” tips on this website.
9) Visit Your Local Farmer
We realize not all of you live in an area where a quick trip to a nearby farm is possible… but at least consider the option as a special outing. We’ve made a habit of taking a leisurely drive out of town one weekend a month to visit several of our favorite farms, where we purchase frozen packages of pasture-raised chicken and beef, fresh eggs, milk, and seasonal produce—all for significantly less than the average cost of the same items at our local organic grocery store.
If you’re living in the city, the farmers may already be coming to you in the form of a nearby farmer’s market. To find out if this is true in your area, visit this website and click on the “Find a Farmer’s Market” link.
Many people have never heard of this organization, whose mission is to “restore nutrient-dense foods to the human diet through education, research and activism.” When all else fails, try contacting one of their local chapters to help you find locally-grown organic vegetables, fruits and grains, milk products, butter, eggs, chicken and meat from pasture-fed animals.
Most Importantly… Be The Change You Want to See
Yes, conventional food is often much cheaper—because it’s been industrialized, uses all sorts of highly processed (typically made from GMO corn) ingredients, and continues to be heavily supported by tax subsidies (in contrast to the lack of support + fees that organic farmers must pay to go through the organic certification process).
Every time you buy GMO foods, you’re telling the agriculture industry to grow / manufacture more GMO foods. Every time you buy organic foods, you’re encouraging more farmers to grow organic foods, which activates the law of supply and demand to shift food manufacturers away from GMO ingredients, thus helping to make organic food more available and affordable.