How To Buy Organic Food On A Budget

Organic food is experiencing the highest level of popularity ever. Have you considered buying organic but are worried about how it might ruin your budget?

Gallup polling reports that 45% of people look specifically for organic foods vs. conventionally raised crops and meats.

Many celebrities tout their love of organic food, including TV actress Sprague Grayden, who stated:

When I can afford it, I’m very into organic food, and I love going to restaurants that use organic produce and such. I think that it’s a shame for everyone that, unfortunately, organic can be pretty expensive, so you just do what you can.

Sadly, this is the mindset of many people who want to eat organic, but think they can’t afford it. But the truth is, many supermarkets have begun offering cheap, organic products. If you look around for deals and coupons, you can buy organic food even if you’re on a budget.

Organic food prices are falling

Sales of organic foods have jumped to nearly $40 billion per year.

While Whole Foods is still the undisputed leader in organic products, the offerings from many of those large food retailers is eating into their profits, which have dropped 10% over the last several years.

Everybody is jumping kind of on the natural and organic food bandwagon, and that’s frankly due to our success. – Whole Foods Co-founder John Mackey.

The good thing about all of the new competitors is that it is driving the price of organic food down. Walmart’s prices are approximately 25% less than the prices of most of its competitors. Walmart’s pricing has forced Whole Foods to reduce the prices of many of its products to stay competitive.

This list of tips is some of the top ways that you can enjoy fresh, organic produce without busting your budget.

Farmers Markets

Farmers markets are the best way to get fresh, organic produce from local farmers. While the prices do tend to be higher than supermarket prices, the food is fresh, chemical-free, and you are supporting local farmers. Do some quick internet research to find markets near you.

Make sure what you are buying is from the farmer – I’ve seen pineapples for sale at a Boston farmer’s market, and I laughed because pineapples don’t grow in New England.

There is a way for low-income families to take advantage of low-priced organic products through farmers markets. An EBT incentive program is available to families who use EBT to purchase food. The program allows users to spend $10 and receive an additional $10 free.

The EBT incentive programs are at participating farmers markets in many areas, so check around to determine if your local farmer’s markets are participating.

Local Co-Ops

Similar to a farmers market, local co-operatives (co-ops) find and buy organic and local ingredients and share what is available with members. You don’t get to pick out what produce items you will get, but you will get a box of fresh, organic produce up to once a week. Many members say they enjoy getting new vegetables and learning to cook what is local and in-season.

Bountiful Baskets is almost nationwide and might be a good way to get started.

Here is another directory for co-ops in your area.

See what you can find locally by checking around because not all co-ops may be listed.

Social Media

Social media is currently one of the top marketing methods. These networks use targeted marketing according to people’s interest. When organic distributors and manufacturers have a deal to pass along to consumers, they use social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. to promote them.

Social media can be used to find coupons, events, and new products as well. Like some of your favorite brands or stores on Facebook or follow them on Twitter or Instagram. You’ll likely see deals you would have missed otherwise.

Sign up for email lists

Signing up for email lists is the best way to get access to exclusive deals and new products. The organic industry wants people to sign up for their newsletters, so they are willing to provide deals and coupons as an incentive.

Buy in season

Fruits and vegetables will taste better and cost less when they are in season.

For example in the United States, it is cheaper to buy strawberries in summer when they are simple to grow in the U.S. than in winter when they get shipped up from South America.

Do a quick google search for in-season produce when making your recipe/shopping list. If you want summer vegetables or fruit in the winter, try the frozen section. Food frozen at peak times of year typically retain their nutrient profile.

Shop around

The problem with many of the organic supermarkets is that prices fluctuate on specific items at different times. For instance, you may go to a Walmart and find a product that is one price.  Another discount organic supermarket may have the same product at a much higher or much lower price.

The reason is that some products are harder to obtain at certain times of the year.  So the prices fluctuate based on this availability. However, many stores price match their competitors.  If you can check prices online ahead of time, you may be able to do all your shopping at the same grocery store.

Best store for comparison shopping

Here are some of the best stores for comparison shopping:

Trader Joe’s: This is one of the most popular organic outlets as many of their products are much less than competitors. Some products are quite a bit higher, so comparison shopping is a must if you want the best deals.

Walmart: As mentioned above, the pricing of many of Walmart’s organic products are around 25% less than their competitors. The only current problem is that organic produce is not yet offered at every Walmart, so it may or may not be available in your area.

Membership clubs: Sam’s Club and Costco are two clubs that offer low prices to consumers who purchase a membership. Most purchases will be large. Be prepared to freeze some products unless you have a large family, but the savings make it worth it.

Earth Fare: Earth Fare is also one of the most popular organic outlets.  They not only provide top-quality organic produce, but they offer deals and freebies on a weekly basis. You can find Earth Fare coupons here.

You can also sign up for their newsletter and texts, and rack up on deals.

Sprouts Famers Market: Sprouts has over 200 locations in the U.S. and offers a selection of organic produce at reasonable prices. They also sell many items in bulk, like spices, nuts, and grains, which allows you to save on your purchases.

Besides comparison shopping, there are a lot of other ways to save money on groceries.

Be selective

Some things are more likely to have pesticide and chemicals than others. The popularly called Dirty Dozen are the ones most likely higher in chemicals/pesticides.

If you can’t buy everything organic but want to buy some, start by purchasing these items as organic and get the rest of your items as regular purchases.

Dirty dozen foods with pesticides and herbicides

Time to get started!

Okay, you’re ready to start saving money.

  • Get a list of your local stores, and comparison shop to find the best deals.
  • Sign up for newsletters and coupon deals through the stores you will be shopping.
  • Check social media pages of the grocery stores and organic manufacturers.
  • Don’t forget to price match if you can and shop items in season.
  • Visit farmers markets every week and use the EBT incentive program to rack up on free organic food. Remember that many farmers markets are open even during some winter months, they just move indoors.
  • Obtain a membership at Sam’s Club or Costco so you can buy in bulk and save. If you have friends who eat organic, you can all go in together on bulk organic produce and then split it up. You will save money using this method, and it also helps ensure that you don’t have to freeze it.

Fresh, organic produce at a low price has become a reality. Now that you have a plan – get to it!

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