It may come as a surprise to you when I say I don’t buy everything organic, but it’s true.
The reality is that organic food is more expensive… there is no hiding that. Even though it’s expensive, I feel it is totally worth it and the benefits of reduced pesticide exposure — especially for children — is incredibly important. Common sense tells me if I reduce the amount of pesticides and toxins my family are exposed to, we’ll be healthier; I don’t need lengthy science journals and experiments to tell me that.
That being said, our budget does not allow for all organic food and I’ve had to make changes. At first, it was a bit of a mental struggle for me as I had to choose between something I knew was better for me and the other not. With time, I’ve learned to make adjustments by figuring out the must have organic foods and the foods that I can typically buy conventional. And honestly, there are foods that really don’t need to be purchased at a hefty organic price because of their thick skins or because they are naturally pest resistant.
I thought it might be helpful for me to share the foods that I don’t skimp the organic price on, conventional produce I save money on, and foods that I’ll sometimes buy organic if I can find a good price.
My must have organic foods are:
- Eggs (I have my own chickens now, but when I didn’t organic pastured eggs were important)
- Bell peppers
- Corn chips (mostly to ensure it’s GMO-free)
- Squash (mostly to ensure it’s a non-GMO variety)
- Zucchini (mostly to ensure it’s a non-GMO variety)
- Sugar (to ensure it’s not GM sugar beet)
- Peanut butter
Meat products are typically the worst offenders when it comes to toxins because they are pumped with antibiotics, hormones, fed GMO feed, live in unhealthy dirty conditions, and treated inhumanely. All of those things combined make for an extremely unhealthy animal. Like the popular saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Plus, toxins tend to store in fatty tissue so it’s scary to think the amount of residual toxins that could be in the animals’ meat and end up in your belly.
The produce I choose to buy organic are typically the ones that are most heavily sprayed with pesticides. I honestly can’t bring myself to buying produce that I know are basically soaked in harmful pesticides — I just can’t.
Thankfully, there are produce options that are generally pest resistant which require less pesticide exposure.
Produce I choose to not buy organic:
- Sweet potatoes
- Frozen peas
- Cabbage (we like to give these as a treat to our chickens)
- Lemon (if I’m just using the juice, I don’t buy organic. Lately I’ve been putting lemon slices in my water so I have been choosing to spend a little extra money on it)
If I have a little extra in my budget and I find a good deal on organic versions, I’ll buy the following foods as organic:
- Green beans
How to Make Costly Organic Produce Less Expensive
Unfortunately it seems like the foods we love most are the ones we have to buy organic, which generally means they are more expensive in the store. One way I try and make these foods more affordable is by growing them in my garden so I can help reduce produce cost. Well, at least that’s the plan.
I’m still struggling with bringing the concept of an “overflowing garden” to life because I have not yet mastered Florida’s awful weather and bugs but I’m not giving up. I know it’s one of the best ways to reduce costs so I’ll do it until I get it right. I’ve gotta hit the garden jackpot one of these times, right?
Another suggestion of enjoying the more expensive foods at a smaller cost is to purchase in bulk when in season. You can do this at farmer’s markets, local co-ops, and sometimes grocery stores offer great sales (that’s the time to buy in bulk and preserve accordingly).
One of the most important things when determining whether to buy organic or not is the knowledge of knowing which foods contain more pesticides and which ones require less. You can find a great list on the Environmental Working Group’s website by clicking here.
Want to learn more on eating well but spending less? Click here for 3 money saving tips plus a helpful resource from a frugal real foodie expert.