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Lately I have been choosing to buy organic foods whenever I can. The Bisphosphenol A (BPA) scare really got to me (90% of Canadians between 6 to 79 have this chemical in our blood) as it can wreck havoc on your fertility and has been linked to certain cancers. With the increased pesticide use on crops, I have been more wary of the food that goes into our bodies.
Organic foods taste better and are better for your health. Organic groceries don't have chemicals sprayed on them to make them last longer. Organic meat is free of growth hormones and antibiotics (no wonder there are these things called “superbugs” in our hospitals that can't be killed by antibiotics- we're all eating antibiotics without even knowing it). A few years ago, King of the Hill even did an episode where Hank fell in love with the organic steaks and joined a local Co-Op. Organic is tastes better, is better for you, but is not necessarily better for your budget.
More often than not, buying organic can mean paying double the price for something that isn't organic. There are certain things that you should buy organic, and things that you don't need to fuss too much about (like organic bananas).
Here are a few tips that can help you save some money when buying organic.
- Shop at your local Farmers Market– A lot of farmers markets are cropping up here in Vancouver. By going to a farmer's market, you skip the middleman (the grocery store) and you can ask questions about how the product you are buying was grown. Also, it helps stimulate the local community and economy. Money Reasons also buys local. Shopping at your Farmer's Market is a win-win situation. Besides, Farmer's Markets always makes me think of fresh romance and love at first site (maybe you'll meet mr. or ms. right while shopping for strawberries- as you look up with your basket of fruit, you meet his eyes and smile– lol maybe I should be a Harlequin romance novel writer instead of a personal finance blogger).
- Go to your local Farm– Instead of heading to a Farmer's Market, you can hit up the local farm. We have blueberry farms about 15km from the city centre and because you do the labour, it's cheaper. It would make for a fun family outing, anyhow.
- Freeze It– You can buy big during the summer months when crop is in season and freeze the produce for later (like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries you name it!). This is on the assumption that you have big enough freezer space. =)
- Check your local Grocery Chain– For example, Shoppers Drug Mart and Safeway have their own “house” brand of organic produce and products. When they go on sale, it's a pretty good deal. For example, I got a large box of organic cereal for $2.50 the other day at Shoppers Drug mart (which is even cheaper than non-organic cereal!)
- Only buy Organic When it Matters– The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has this list called the “Dirty Dozen”- naming the foods that are laced with the most pesticides- these are: peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, cherries and imported grapes (in the order of most to least). For veggies, the EWG quotes: Sweet Bell Peppers, Celery, Lettuce, Spinach, Potatoes, Carrots, Green Beans, Hot Peppers, Cucumbers, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Winter Squash, Tomatoes, Sweet Potatoes. Basically- these are fruits which have thin skins and fruits in which we consume the skin. Thicker skinned fruits and vegetables like avocados, bananas, and pineapples aren't as pesticide-ridden, so you don't need to be wasting your money and buying these organic. The EWG calls these the “Clean Fifteen”: onions, sweet corn, sweet peas, asparagus, cabbage, eggplant and sweet potatoes. For fruits: avocados, pineapples, mangoes, kiwi, domestic cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit and honeydew
- Print/Clip Coupons: Lastly, can't forget coupons- a lot of online coupons can be had nowadays if you're too lazy to clip coupons from your weekly flier. Saving money on organic yogurt and milk can really add up, considering yogurt costs $4.50 to $5.oo for a small bucket (I go through yogurt like water).
Hope that helps! If you still have a Nalgene bottle kickin' around- get rid of it! I can't believe I used the Nalgene bottle I had for 6+ years. Now I use it to water my plants. Hopefully my plants don't get cancer or have fertility problems.
Do you have any other tips for buying organic foods on the cheap? Are you a fan of organic foods too?
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