The demand for organic food rises every year, but everything organic might not be worth it. With organic foods sporting higher price tags, it’s important to weigh their value against your grocery budget. Here are some simple ways how to buy organic food.
How to buy organic food
Understand the Labels
The first hurdle for any organic shopper is figuring out exactly which products are organic. One way to spot these products is to look for a USDA Organic seal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
When you see this label on a product, you know that it meets the following standards:
- Plant Foods. Plants were grown without synthetic fertilizers, prohibited pesticides, or sewage sludge. They do not contain any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and have not been irradiated.
- Animal Products. Animals were raised in a way that meets basic health and welfare standards. They had access to the outdoors, were not given antibiotics or growth hormones, and were fed 100% organic feed.
- Processed Foods. At least 95% of the material in the food comes from organic plant and animal products.
Farmers’ markets are a great place to discover various nutritional treasures, and to get you in contact with your local farmers. Bear in mind that there are quite a few farmers that choose to not get certified, who can still produce organic veggies, fruits, meat, grains, and nuts, regardless. By not paying the certification fees, these farmers are able to sell their produce at a lower price, which translates to more savings for you, but keep in mind that claims of being ‘organic’ might not always be legitimate. It’s always a good idea to ask them about their farming methods and practices and to see for yourself whether their product is high-quality or not.
Prioritize Produce that is More Susceptible to Pesticide Residue Retention
There are a few veggies and fruits that can still retain dangerous residues, regardless of how carefully you wash them, such as potatoes, celery, spinach, etc. When you are on a tight budget, it would be a good idea to prioritise spending a bit more for the organic version of these high-risk products. For example, you don’t need to spend more on organic cabbage, avocados, mangoes, kiwis, pineapples and onions, since they provide almost zero additional nutritional benefits.
Shop in season
Organic produce can vary significantly in price depending on when you buy it. By shopping in season, you can save a lot of money. Oftentimes you can substitute ingredients that are out of season with new ones that are in season. You might even like the recipe better by changing to more flavorful, in season ingredients.
Join a co-op
Knowing the source of the foods you eat, the services you employ and the products you purchase are just a few of the benefits of joining a cooperative. From the outside, many co-ops look like any other business, since a co-op provides products and services as conventional businesses do. But it’s what goes on behind the scenes that makes it different. A cooperative exists to serve its members, but what makes co-ops unique is that the members are also the owners. So, in addition to getting the products and services you need, you also have a say in the business decisions your cooperative makes. Rather than rewarding outside investors with its profits, a co-op returns surplus revenue to its members in proportion to how much they use the co-op.
Even though it’s hard to check the legitimacy of supposedly organic farmers over the internet, you can always reach out to established, well-respected forums and community sites, which will refer you to the best of the best.
Take Help When You Go Shopping
Even if you’ve done your research, shopping for organic products can be confusing. Companies that use greenwashing tactics with fake green labels and deceptive organic terms can make it hard to find real organic products. On top of that, even NOP labels can be confusing. If you’re confused or unsure about a product, ask questions at the store.
The challenge in shopping for organic products is that many companies use the term organic incorrectly in order to attract organic product buyers and charge higher prices. Above are the best tips for buy organic food from the fake.