In a world in which we are increasingly worried about the health of our families, the stability of our jobs, and all of life’s responsibilities, the simple act of trying to eat healthy often becomes a challenge.
And with so many Americans food insecure and on food stamps, talking about organic foods—produced without the use of all kinds of additives and ingredients—can often sound like a luxury that few, if any, can afford.
But as organizations from the American Academy of Pediatrics to the President’s Cancer Panel encourage us to reduce our exposure to everything from pesticides to artificial growth hormones, the fact is that we should all be able to feed our families foods that are free-from additives that are increasingly being shown to cause harm. (Wondering what the most contaminated foods are? Find out with The Dirty Dozen.)
More from Prevention.com: What You Need To Know About GMOs
So here are a few tips for those who want to start buying organic food but don’t want to pay the high price:
1. Go orgo-generic: Major grocery store chains like Safeway and Kroger, and big box food retailers like Costco and even Wal-Mart, now carry their own organic foods. And all foods labeled “USDA organic” are created equal, no matter where you find them. No need to upscale your grocery store when Wal-Mart gets it done.
2. Buy frozen: Frozen foods (like strawberries and fish) are cheaper than those that are delivered fresh. So if the prices on fresh produce are eye-popping, cruise on over to the frozen food aisle for a discount.
3. Eat with the season: Retrain your taste buds to think like your grandmother did. She didn’t eat strawberries in the middle of winter. Locally grown foods are usually cheaper than those flown in from another hemisphere, so if you eat with the season, you’ll be eating more affordably.
4. Skip the box, embrace the bulk: Food that comes in boxes costs more because of the packaging costs associated with designing those pretty pictures. When you buy in bulk, you’re not paying for all of the packaging—you’re paying for the food, which is what you wanted in the first place. So slide on over to that bulk food aisle in Safeway and look for noodles, cereals, and rice and beans.
5. Support the US economy and buy local: You can save money by becoming a member of a local farm (just like you became a member at Safeway or Costco!). How do you find a local farm, you ask? Well, thankfully, the USDA now has a list of online sites to help you find the closest farm near you, so click here to log onto the USDA site.
6. Comparison shop: You wouldn’t buy a car without comparison shopping, so before you even head out the door, you can compare the prices of organic foods at different retailers from the safety of your own computer at Eat Well Guide.
7. Coupons, coupons, coupons: Organic bargains are everywhere, so click on About.com’s Frugal Living page where you will find All Organic Links.
8. Grow one thing: If you’re as busy as we are, there’s not a chance in creation that you’re going to be able to feed your family off of your home-grown harvest, but you will find that growing a tomato plant can be incredibly inspiring. And it’s not as intimidating as it seems. So pick one thing to grow—you can do it (we all grew lima beans in cups as kids, right?)
9. Find a friend. It’s way more fun to have someone cheering you on as you begin to make these changes. And remember, just as our little ones learn to walk by taking baby steps, you can do the same thing here. Do what you can, where you are, with what you have. Take those baby steps. Because before you know it, you’ll be off and running.
Need some more inspiration? Check out The Top 10 Reasons To Go Organic.