Price vs principles – 6 tips for eating organic on a budget
Despite a recession, it seems organic shoppers are committed and loyal. Organic sales increased by 1.7% during 2008 while overall retail sales dropped by 1.8%
Unfortunately, the truth is, most organic food is more expensive than conventional food. A question I always ask here at Chez Green is ‘Don’t ask why organic food is so expensive, consider why conventional food is cheap!’
It can be argued that organic food does not require pesticides, so why is it more expensive? But take a look at modern farming methods and the ingredients in many foods; it’s easy to see you get what you pay for!
Why is organic food more expensive?
Organic food is more expensive to produce because of several factors. In the dairy and meat industry, these include:
- More time intensive farming procedures are used.
- Non GM organic feed costs more to feed organic animals than other food.
- Access to outdoors for animals, mean more land and maintenance is required.
- Slower and more natural growth rates mean more care, time and money are used.
- High animal welfare standards use more time and money in the long term.
Organic food – cheaper in the future?
However, with the price of oil rising, perhaps organically grown fruit and vegetables will become CHEAPER in the future because of the lack of fossil-fuel based fertilisers! And with the country needing to cut carbon emissions, we might look more heavily to organically produced food.
If you’ve decided to commit a portion of your housekeeping to organic food, there are many ways to get more for your money.
Six tips for eating organic on a budget
- Cook food from scratch – spend your money on wholesome organic ingredients rather than over packaged, processed food.
- Sign up for an organic box scheme – you’ll get fresh, seasonal and local organic produce delivered to your door.
- Bulk buy. Join a food buying co-op, such as Suma. You’ll save around 1/4 of your food bill by sharing large orders with friends.
- Eat more vegetarian food. Start with one vegetarian meal per week and gradually increase; use staples such as pulses as the main part of your meal.
- Grow your own. My mantra is; you can grow food even without a garden – think of herbs in the windowsill, tomatoes in a hanging basket and sprouted seeds in the kitchen!!
- Learn to forage; there is food for free right on your doorstep.
- Want to know how to cook with a new ingredient? Find it on the veg box recipes site.
- Find out where to buy fresh produce locally at Big Barn.
- Check out your local farmers market; many farmers grow organically, but do not bother to get accreditation.
- Suma food co-op – set up a co-op with friends and buy at wholesale prices.
- Find out which foods are in season throughout the year.
- Find out how to forage: Fergus shows you how with his wild food site!
I like your idea of growing things even if you don’t have a garden – I should try a few pots of something on my kitchen windowsill. I have an organic veg box delivered and enjoy it very much. The produce is so fresh and tasty and I like the challenge of creating new recipes with seasonal produce. For me, it’s definitely worth paying a bit more.
In my area, there is an organic farmer that allows you to buy shares. Then, every week, you can pick up your fresh organic goodies to supplement your normal stuff. Healthy and good for the environment.
@Mummy Zen: I agree, fresh, organic products from a veg box scores high on the taste stakes. It will be great if you grow some of your own this year 🙂
@Ben: Brilliant scheme, Ben – someone is setting one up around here. A CSA I think it’s called.
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