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Monday, September 20, 2010

Going green without going broke: Organic edition

Image via neal1960

I used to think that going organic and eco-friendly would break the bank. Over the past 10 years, I've seen the price gap between organic products and non-organic products narrow as the demand has gone up but still the other day I was at Costco and I was having a dilemma with over buying chicken ... organic farm raised was double the price over Foster Farms. I went with the organic farm raised but OUCH.

Here are some tips and tricks I've learned over the last few years when it comes to buying organic:

1. Join a CSA in the spring and share with another family. My CSA costs $11 a week and it dictates our meals. Sure, we have the pay the price all up front but in the end, I've seen my grocery bill go down during those 26 weeks. What we don't eat, I freeze and pull out during the winter.

2. If you shop the farmer's market or local natural food store, go at the end of the market or day and the farmers/owners may cut you a deal. I haven't tried this but a friend reported to me that this is often what she does.

3. Clip coupons! Sign up for Your Green Helper and they will do the work for you. They look at the coupons in the Sunday paper and show you how to combine it with sales happening at the grocery stores and Whole Foods. I shop Whole Foods often and the cashier was shocked at how much I saved.

4. Buy store name or house brand organics. A good majority of the time "plain label" as I call them, are cheaper and often are private labels of big name brands. This is mainly why I haven't discontinued my Costco membership. One of my favorite items is their oatmeal. It's organic and doesn't contain high fructose corn syrup and it's quick to make when I'm on the run in the morning. Throw in some nuts and I'm good until lunch.

5. Buy your meat from a local farmer. I used to buy my meat in bulk at Costco a few times a year and freeze it. One day, I added up the cost of what I spend in bulk meat items at Costco and figured I could save some money by buying local from a rancher in Prineville. I also discovered that the organic ground beef was either raised in the US, Canada or Australia. Have I done this yet? This is on my list to do soon as I run out of meat and I'm about there.

6. Eat and freeze with the season. The rule of supply and demand drive the prices down. Summer is when I often freeze strawberries, blueberries and peaches to bring out and brighten our tummies during the winter months. I also make my own freezer jam which comes in handy during the winter months.

7. If you have a Trader Joes, stop on in. They have competitively priced produce (just check where it was grown), No rBST in the dairy products and they're line of products don't contain GMO, preservatives, MSG or added trans fats. Eco-novice has more on this.

8. Grow one thing. My husband and I have committed to growing something in 2011. We are still deciding but we're leaning towards squash and pumpkins which go very easily where we live.

Have a tip? I would love to hear it!

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