A reader recently asked me if I had any suggestions for incorporating more organic foods into her family's diet without having to move to Brokesville. What's necessary -- and what isn't?
Doing research for this has been, well, painful. No, I don't have time to make my own organic bread to save money because organic flour is inexpensive. Yes, I do want to be "that mom," but that to me isn't feasible. No, I don't want to feed my son pesticides -- or ingest them myself.
So here are some suggestions for how to eat organic on a budget.
Special thanks to Pam Fischette, marketing team leader at Whole Foods Market of Mount Pleasant, and John Messinger, community relations coordinator at Earth Fare on James Island.
What to buy (or not)
Meats and milk that are filled with hormones and antibiotics can have the worst effect on your body, so be sure to factor them into your overall organic budget.
Some fruits and veggies should always be purchased organic because they soak in pesticides. The five most contaminated, according to the Environmental Working Group, are apples, celery, strawberries, peaches and spinach.
Buy what's in season/on sale and freeze it (or can fruits and vegetables). I guess I need to learn how to do this. I hope it's easier than baking bread.
Did I mention I grow my own herbs? It is so easy and doable for me. The shelf life of dried herbs is six months (Hear that, Mom?), so it's best to buy only what you need.
Join a Community Supported Agriculture program and get a basket of produce from a local farm. The cost to join is around $150-$355 per 12- to 15-week session.
How to save
Buy store brands. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday line and Earth Fare's brand both have a wide selection. Trader Joe's, which just opened in Mount Pleasant, also has a store brand.
Use coupons. Yes, you can get coupons for organic foods. Some interesting sites I found are mambosprouts.com, recyclebank.com and organicdeals.com. Also, both Earthfare and Whole Foods offer coupons and loyalty programs on their websites.
Visit the Charleston Savvy Shopper blog at postandcourier.comsavvyshopper for a list of area CSAs, the complete Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists of produce that contains the most and least amount of pesticides, as well as many more local deals.