There are many concerns these days about environmental toxins that can affect not only our health, but our children’s health.  One way that we can reduce our exposure is by eating organic foods. Foods that are USDA Certified Organic have been grown without chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which can remain in foods even after washing and cooking.  Growing organic foods is more costly, and shopping for organic groceries can be expensive. As a single mother who works part-time, both my child’s health and living within my budget are top priorities.

Here is how I manage to eat almost all organic foods on a limited income:

  1. Farmers Markets: In the spring through fall months, farmers markets are my favorite way to get fresh picked organic produce at a great price. The food is much more fresh, and usually significantly less pricey than supermarket foods. Plus, I get to shop outside and chat with the people who grow my food! Check out a site like Local Harvest to find a farmers market in your neighborhood.
  2. Community Supported Agriculture Shares: Another way to stay supplied with fresh produce during the growing season is a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share. Food comes directly from a local farm. Participants commit to a certain payment for a season to receive a portion of produce, eggs, dairy, meat, etc. from the farm. Shareholders are usually invited to visit the farm to see where and how the food is being grown. The drawbacks can be yields that vary depending on weather and other agricultural factors. They sometimes deliver large quantities of one type of food at one time.  If you have canning skills or a large freezer, you may be able to store enough food to eat through the winter, too. You can find a CSA in your area through Local Harvest, too.
  3. Eat seasonally: I have really come to enjoy eating seasonally. I buy what is on sale and what I find coupons for each week. These are likely to be the foods that are in season and abundant. Eating seasonally is a great way to maintain a varied diet throughout the year. I have begun to really look forward to the supply of delicious treats each season brings.
  4. Buy in bulk: Dry goods like nuts, beans, lentils, rice, grains, flours, sugar, etc. can be bought at discounted prices in bulk either from bins at the supermarket or at membership stores like Costco.  They can keep you eating organic through the winter months when fresh produce is harder to come by. I adjust my budget to buy more bulk dry goods in the wintertime. You just need some good airtight containers to keep bulk foods fresh.
  5. Dirty Dozen, Clean 15: I carry the EWG (Environmental Working Groups) Dirty Dozen & Clean 15 list with me on each shopping trip. Knowing which foods are highest and lowest in pesticide contamination helps me decide which foods are most important to buy organic.
  6. Packaging: Another source of food contamination can be the packaging. There is a growing body of evidence showing that BPA (bisphenol A), that is in many plastics and the lining of cans and cartons, affects our health in many ways. Children are especially susceptible. Eating whole foods and made-from-scratch meals reduces contamination from packaging.  Sometimes we just need food that’s ready to eat. Luckily, Amy’s Organics sells frozen, prepared, organic foods in BPA free packaging. I like to stock up on these frozen meals whenever they are on sale so we always have something convenient on hand.

We don’t eat all organic, all of the time.  It’s about minimizing our exposure as much as possible. It also feels good knowing that I am providing food that is free of contaminants for my son’s health. It feels even better doing it at a low price!

This has been a guest post by Angela from Denver, CO
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How to Eat Organic Without Eating Up Your Budget