So you’re concerned about genetically modified foods. You know that the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used by big business agriculture are bad for you and the environment. You’d love to eat organic foods but you just can’t afford the price tag. Proponents of the real food movement will tell you that with your health and the environment at stake you can’t afford not to buy exclusively certified organic, but for those of us on a low-income budget, that’s not a realistic expectation. So what do you do? If a single trip to Whole Foods would blow your monthly grocery budget, can you still eat safely and healthily? Don’t worry! Your income hasn’t doomed you to living off of processed chicken nuggets! Here’s a few ways to get organic foods without breaking the bank:
Grow Your Own
This is the best and most obvious solution. A single packet of non-gmo, certified organic seeds costs about the same or less than single purchase of the fully grown fruit or vegetable and with a little work, you can produce dozens of meals worth saving you tons of money. Since you have direct control over your garden, you know what you grow is safe to eat and using organic gardening methods is often cheaper than using chemicals. Also, nothing beats biting into a sun ripened tomato freshly picked from your own garden.
Direct from Farm or Gardener
No green thumb, or don’t have the time to grow your own? The next best thing is to buy or barter from a local farm or gardener. You can go and see their garden, fields, or livestock for yourself and ask them questions to determine if their produce is of the quality you are looking for. You may find that they use organic practices even if they are not certified. As an added bonus, if you’re friends, they may just be willing to part with some homegrown goodies for free!
Farmer’s markets give you another opportunity to meet the growers and ask questions about their products. You may benefit by joining a CSA at your local farmer’s market which can be a huge return on investment. I’ve heard many people say that you should go at the end of the day because many of the growers are trying to unload as much of their remaining stock as they can before closing and may be willing to part with it for a huge bargain or if you’re lucky may even give some away. Also, if you receive Foodstamps many Farmer’s Markets now have programs for you to use your EBT card there.
My personal favorite grocery store has recently removed all synthetic colors and banned the use of partially hydrogenated oils in their foods. They have a growing selection of organic produce and often have great sales. Just last week I bought a pound of organic carrots for 99 cents. That’s way cheaper than what you’d pay at a health-food store. It’s even cheaper than non-organic carrots at major chain grocery stores. They also accept EBT.
In my state, if you are pregnant or have children under age 5 and are at 185% of the federal poverty line or lower you are eligible for WIC. Some people think that WIC only provides infant formula but that’s far from the truth. They actually provide a voucher for fresh fruits and vegetables which can be used for organic produce. Currently, I get an $11 voucher each month. If you have a 6-12 month old on the WIC program, you can get Beechnut brand babyfood. All of their babyfood is certified as non gmo. Also, WIC is very helpful in supporting breastfeeding if you wish to avoid using formulas which may contain gmo’s.
Do you have any tips for eating healthily on a budget? Leave a comment and let us know!
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