4 easy ways to eat organically for less

The organic food industry has grown significantly in Canada in recent years, with sales of organic foods now topping well over $1 billion as retail sales grow 20 percent a year. Here are four tips that can help you eat organically without breaking the budget.

4 easy ways to eat organically for less

1. Get protein for less

Organic meat, poultry and eggs can cost twice as much as regular products. The animals are fed organic feed and have not been injected with antibiotics and hormones.

  • A cheaper alternative is to purchase "natural" meats and eggs, available at local health food stores. Although the animals have not been fed an organic diet, neither have they been injected with antibiotics or hormones.
  • Growth hormones have been linked to cancer and hormonal problems, such as early puberty.

2. Smart dairy tips

Organic cheese can be prohibitively expensive — sometimes double the cost of conventional cheese — but organic milk is often not priced that much higher than conventional milk, and it has more omega-3 fatty acid, which is good for the heart.

3. Selective buying

Going completely organic could increase your food bill by 40 percent to 50 percent, but most basic fruits and vegetables are from 10 percent to 20 percent more. But you can make your budget go further by buying just those foods that are most commonly subjected to, or contain, high levels of pesticides. Here is a list:

  • apples
  • milk
  • oats
  • bananas
  • peaches
  • peppers
  • green beans
  • strawberries
  • rice
  • pears
  • grapes
  • raspberries

4. Compare box schemes

Run by an organic farm or delivery company, a box scheme puts together boxes of seasonal organic vegetables or fruit, or a mixture of both, for a fixed price and delivers it to your door.

  • Some schemes list what will be included each week on their website and allow you to indicate what you don't like.
  • Prices vary, depending on the size of the box, but generally run from $12 to $60. For better value, share a large box with a neighbour.
  • Most programs provide delivery of in-season, reasonably priced fruit and/or vegetables (choice of organic or non-organic) from local farmers and includes a newsletter containing nutritional information.
  • Look online to find programs in your area and links to organic farms, farmers' markets and stores across Canada, as well as books, magazines, journals, events and where to buy organic.

Statistics Canada reports that the majority of Canadians are willing to spend more if it means chemical-free food and 25 percent reported that they would be willing to spend up to 50 percent more. However, going organic doesn't mean you have to derail your entire food budget. Follow these tips and research organic stores in your neighbourhood to inexpensively go organic.

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