Let’s now kid ourselves, shall we? Girl you know by now you should be going organic whenever you can. Yeah, it’s generally more expensive, but a lot less than chemotherapy, wouldn’t you say? Here’s a quick and dirty guide on how to go organic on a budget.
By far, the cheapest way to go organic is to just grow your own. I’ve been doing this for years. Even if you have just a scrap of a yard, you can grow tomatoes, strawberries, grapes, oranges, apples, whatever. Seeds and seedlings are cheap. Make sure you buy organic top soil and fertilizer so not to corrupt your clean food. My favorite is E.B. Stone–their bat poo is GREAT for my eggplants. Find out when the growing season starts for your neck of the woods at Garden Web, which gives you more information that you’d ever want or need to know about growing your own food.
Buy organic produce that’s in season in your neck of the woods. They’ll be more abundant and therefore, less pricey.
Know what foods that should be consumed organically, and buy the cheaper versions of the foods that don’t. Here’s a rule of thumb: any fruit or vegetable that you do not peel–that is, you eat the leaves and the inner and outer skin–should be organic, otherwise, you’ll get the full dose of whatever pesticides and synthetic fertilizers those farmers used to grow them. Lettuce, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, grapes (unless grown in Mexico), apples, and green beans should be on the top of your “buy organic” list.
Bananas, citrus (with the exception of kumquats), potatoes (if you remove the skin) are all pretty safe to buy non-organic, because most of the chemicals lurk on the outer layers.
Go to a farmer’s market. It’s guaranteed to be the freshest and packed with the most nutrients. Organic farmers can charge a little less to sell their produce at a community farmer’s market so you can get a better deal.
If you live in the New York area, you might want to join Farm Share, an organic coop of farmers who deliver a full week’s worth of organic vegetables right to your door. It has a hefty upfront cost–for their offering of heirloom tomatoes, arugula, beets, middle eastern cucumbers, summer squash, yellow fingerling potatoes, onions, garlic, purple carrots, snap peas, brussel sprouts on the stalk, leaf lettuce, eggplant is $625, delivery included. But that’s for 22 weeks of service, averaging to $28 per week. Now that’s a deal.
Once you’ve bought your produce, the money savings comes in when you can preserve it for at least a week. Stuffing it in the fridge isn’t going to cut it. Pick up some of those green bags (great to slow ripening bananas) or get food-preserving containers like FoodSaver’s Produce Keeper, which uses technology stall the emission of ethylene gas to slow over-ripening. It’s great for lettuce, other green leafy veggies and slows the mold on berries.
Christelyn D. Karazin is a health writer and the co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race Culture and Creed (to be released February 2012), and runs a blog, www.beyondblackwhite.com, dedicated to women of color who are interested and or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. She is also the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to find solutions to the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate in the black community