6 Tips for Shopping Organic…on a Budget

Blueberries, summer, child - Lovely girl with fresh blueberriesI wouldn’t consider myself a green activist. I try to make reasonable and responsible choices for my family and the environment. We recycle, and we reuse. We clean our house with organic solutions, and we try to eat organic produce, milk, and meat. Does every item in my house have a certified USDA Organic label? Honestly…no. Am I opposed to the idea of 100% organic? Absolutely not, I’m just haven’t become a purist quite yet.

Pregnancy and raising an infant has push me a little bit closer to the purist line. Although I always appreciated the idea of organic produce, it was just so expensive. For years, I lived on an incredibly limited budget funded solely by student loans. This made organic groceries seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. However, the more I learn about pesticides and processed foods, the more I am willing to spend on organic. Being pregnant impacted my diet significantly. I followed the pregnancy food restriction guidelines like they were the 10 Commandments. When I learned that my favorite fruits (berries) were on the non-organic “No, No list” due to their pesticide levels, I realized that I needed to make a change.Diet in pregnancy

If my growing fetus could be negatively impacted by these pesticides, I didn’t want to take a chance. After my daughter was born we decided to spend the money on organic baby food since the American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends that this may be a better option. Having a baby is expensive, and since I wasn’t pregnant, I reverted back to eating a lot of non-organic produce. Funny thing is…babies start eating table food eventually! The idea of cooking two separate meals was out of the question. Consequently, my concern for my daughter’s environmental exposure to pesticides has probably added a few years onto my life! Here are 6 tips for those of you trying to figure out the wonderful world of ORGANIC on a budget:

1. Buy What You Can Afford

My suggestion for all parents is to incorporate as much organic into your child’s diet as you can afford. We all have different grocery budgets, and the last thing you want to do is buy only organic and end up with a starving family. If you aren’t able to reasonably purchase only organic, then prioritize what you purchase. This leads me into point #2.

2. Ditch the “Dirty Dozen”

Start by replacing items from the “Dirty Dozen” list with their organic counterparts. If you aren’t familiar with the “Dirty Dozen,” ¬†this is a list of produce items that contain the highest amounts of pesticide residues.¬†The first steps of the kid

3. Beyond the “Dirty Dozen”

If you are able to do more than just the “Dirty Dozen,” then start working your way down the Environmental Working Groups 2014 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. Here they list 48 fruits and vegetables high in pesticide residue. Start swapping these out as well. And, if you can go even further, consider exchanging your milk and meat for organic/antibiotic free/hormone free options.

4. The “Clean 15”

If you have maxed out your organic budget, take a look at the Clean 15 list. These are 15 foods with some of the lowest pesticide residues. If you need to put more produce in your basket at a lower ticket price (non-organic), then choose the items on this list.

5. Farmer’s Markets May Be Your Best Friend

In addition to supporting your local farmer, shopping at a Farmer’s Market my save you a lot of money. Many of the produce options in the Farmer’s Markets are organically grown. Because these items practically come from your back yard and don’t have to be shipped, you can get them at a fraction of the grocery store price. Besides, taking your kids to a Farmer’s Market is just plain fun!Berries on Wooden Background. Summer or Spring Organic Berry ove

6. Consider an Organic Produce Delivery Service

If your local grocery stores are lacking in organic options, or if you don’t want to have to shop at two different stores, consider signing up for an organic produce delivery service like The Green Bean Delivery service. These companies use local produce, they deliver to your front door, and they usually don’t cost any more than an organic market. You might just be able to purchase a little more produce with the gas money that you save.

Remember that even if you aren’t eating 100% organic, you can still make healthy food choices for your child (A non-organic apple is always preferable to Mc Donald’s french fries). Offer your child a variety of health food choices. Starting this at a young age may save you the grief of a picky eater later in life and will ensure that your child is getting the nutrients that he/she needs for growth and development. You don’t have to break the bank or starve your family to eat healthy. You may be surprised by how much organic produce you can fit into your cart and your budget. Give it a try, and let me know how it goes!

From The Mom in Me, MD