Can You Afford to Buy Organic?

If the hippies and back-to-the-land campaigners who first pioneered the movement back in the sixties and seventies could see just how trendy organic food is considered today – it’s likely they’d choke on their mung bean stew in surprise. Once seen as faintly cranky fare for health food obsessives, organic food is now viewed as the ultimate foodie treat, a luxury choice which attracts a premium price tag.

Though it’s difficult to argue with the benefits that choosing organic has for both health and the future of the planet, it’s frustrating that many families on a budget see organic food as being simply too expensive to introduce into their everyday diet. But it’s easier than many might think to buy organic fruit and vegetables for the same price, if not less, than the non-organic equivalent. With this in mind, here are a few examples of how you and your family can enjoy organic produce regularly, without breaking the bank.

Shop Later

Because organic produce is not pumped full of artificial preservatives it naturally has a shorter shelf-life than conventional fruit and veg. That’s bad news for the supermarkets, but great news for shoppers seeking out a bargain. Upmarket supermarkets which specialise in locally-sourced, organic food often have to mark down their prices to shift perishable stock at the end of the day. By shopping at 6pm or later it’s possible to get some real savings (sometimes up to 70%) on organic goods if you’re ready to cook them up the same evening.

Grow Your Own

Growing your own organic vegetables, either in the back garden, or on a rented allotment, is not a quick-fix solution. It’s very hard work and can often be frustrating as well as rewarding. But, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you won’t find a cheaper way to source organic vegetables for an awful lot less than at the supermarkets. If you’re new to the game, get a practical guidebook and remember to seek the advice of fellow gardeners. Older growers often have a wealth of gardening knowledge and, for the price of a cup of tea and a chat, they’re often willing to share their hard-earned secrets.

Buy More For Less

Health food stores often feature self-service bins stuffed with organic kitchen staples like nuts, seeds and pulses, which are priced by weight. In most cases, the more you buy, the more you save, since bulk purchases come with a discount. If you find that your household doesn’t really require huge quantities of these kinds of organic foods, why not split the deal with some friends? That way you can spread the benefits of saving around your local community.

Farmers’ Markets

Unfortunately, the popularity of farmers’ markets, in which growers are meant to boost business by hooking up direct with the consumers, have sometimes fallen foul of entrepreneurs out to make a swift profit. Some farmers’ markets (especially in well-to-do urban areas) are more about over-priced luxury jams, conserves and cakes than buying cheap but grubby organic carrots. Luckily, thanks to the credit crunch, most markets are now returning to their roots. Listen out for recommendations, or look on local Internet listings for markets attended by genuine farmers. There are often real bargains to be had if you’re willing to get up early on Sunday morning!