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6 Surefire Ways to Buy Pesticide-Free Organics on a Budget

Eating safe and green doesn't have to cost you your weekly paycheck or that coveted soy silk kimono robe you've always wanted.

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By Karen Berner

Think eating organics will cost you more and you'll be unable to afford those cool bamboo jersey tops and kicky recycled flip flops this summer? Fear not. With these easy-to-follow tips you'll be able to reap the rewards of a healthy diet inexpensively and liven up your green wardrobe at the same time.

1. Put your green bargaining cap on and talk with farmers at the markets to negotiate a lower price for your produce. We know they work hard for their money but it can''t hurt to ask. Bartering for fare isn't as strange as it sounds. Maybe they'll unload the less popular fruits and vegetables for less too. We've known people to price haggle at their local supermarkets. It's a pretty gutsy move but we're passionate about our organic produce!

2. Everyone's looking for the perfect specimen. You might want to choose produce that's been passed over, because of minimal bruising and spotting, and ask for a lower price. Let's face it, basil is going to wilt anyways once you chop it up or cook it so buying some that's already on its way isn't going to affect its flavor. It just means that you'll want to use it sooner than later -- which isn't a bad thing.

3. More and more of the bigger food warehouse stores (like Sam's Club, for example) are carrying organic items. If you can buy in bulk (dried beans, rice, canned tomatoes, organic coffee, etc.) this will save you a few dollars too. If you want to buy vegetables in greater quantities because of price, some will freeze nicely if slightly blanched beforehand. Asparagus, green beans, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, corn on the cob, turnips and squashes can all be frozen. Those that won't fare as well are salad greens, radishes, green onions, tomatoes and potatoes.

4. Before you go to the Farmer's Market and get pulled into the romance of it all ("I must have those gorgeous garlic scapes - now what do I do with them?"), plan ahead and go with a set list in mind. If an item is too expensive because it's just come in season, wait a week and the price may go down.

5. The proliferation of websites that sell organic food and related items is ever-growing and with the incentive of free shipping on some sites, this may be a great alternative for you. Check out www.shopnatural.com for organics from baby food to pasta. Amy''s Kitchen offers some great non-frozen organic items like salsas, soups, and sauces. Another site called BREADnBRIE, located in New York, touts their site as an online gourmet supermarket (with green delivery) and carries a nice variety of organic foods. Amazon.com is even dabbling in selling organic grocery store items, so you'll have a variety of sources from which to choose.

6. Just as you search for coupons in your local supermarket flyers (or watch them haphazardly fall out of your weekend newspaper), many of the organic brand websites offer a way to print out coupons too. Organic Valley, Taste the Dream (Rice and Soy Dream products) and R.W. Knudsen products, all offer coupons. If you don't have access to a printer, some of the websites will simply send you the coupons if you supply your snail mail address.

What To Do When You Can't Find Organics Or Pesticide-Free Fruits and Vegetables? If you don't have the advantage of buying organic and your local supermarket only carries fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides, check out a produce shopping list that gives you the skinny on items grown with the least amount of harmful chemicals or what we consider the lesser of two chemical evils.

SAFE FOOD WATCH: Eye On Pesticides A special report with news, tips, recipes and more


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