Eating Organic on a Budget Tips
Eating organic and pasture-raised has lots of health benefits for your body, mind, and mood, but it can get expensive. Here are some ideas for eating organic on a budget.
What's in This Post
|How Eating Organic Helps Your Mood|
|Eating Organic on a Budget Tips|
|Frozen Vs. Fresh Produce|
|EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen|
If you have more ideas for eating organic on a budget, please scroll down and leave a comment.
How Eating Organic Helps Your Mood
Organic foods are beneficial for what they don’t have: GMOs, pesticides, and chemicals. All of which stress your body and add to your general stress load. That makes it harder for your body's systems to deal with emotional stressors. So—eating organic helps your body, mind, and stress resilience.
Eggs and meat from pasture-raised animals also possess nutrients that their factory-farm-raised brethren don’t have. Those nutrients, such as helpful Omega-3's, vitamins, and minerals boost your stress resilience. (I explain lots more about the benefits of pasture-raised meats, chicken, and eggs in my book Feed Your Calm: Anti-Anxiety Anti-Stress Diet and Supplement Tips for Stress Resilience.)
Eating Organic on a Budget Tips
I understand that organic and pasture-raised foods are relatively expensive and may be challenging to find in some areas.
Do what you can with what you’ve got.
Get creative about how you can adjust your food budget to make room for better quality.
Here are some ideas for doing organic on a budget:
- focus on cheaper cuts of organic meat (e.g., hamburger instead of steak)
- check for frozen organic fruits and vegetables (see the section below)
- use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists to learn which fruits and vegetables are more important to buy organic (more on this in a minute)
- buy in bulk
- look for organic store brands
- focus on what’s in season and local
- eat out less
- limit processed foods—cook from scratch
- eat less snacky junk food
- skip that latte, soda, or bottle of wine
- plan your menus to minimize waste
- use everything (e.g., make soup broth with chicken bones)
Some areas have stores like Trader Joe’s that specialize in clean food at bulk-purchased prices. Some big-box stores, such as Costco, have a surprising number of organic foods at great prices.
Frozen Vs. Fresh Produce
In a 2017 study, researchers in the US and South Korea examined nutritional values for fruits and veggies under 3 conditions:
- fresh, and
- fresh stored appropriately for 5 days.
They found that all three conditions gave similar nutrition profiles and "in some situations, frozen produce is more nutritious than its 5-day fresh-stored counterpart."
EWG's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen
Each year, EWG (The Environmental Working Group) puts out lists of non-organic fruits and vegetables that have the most and least amount of pesticide residue:
- The Clean Fifteen have the least pesticide residue of those fruits and vegetables tested by the US Department of Agriculture
- The Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables have the highest levels of pesticides
These lists can help you prioritize spending money on buying organic versions of the worst offenders (or just avoiding these foods) and save money by purchasing the "Clean Fifteen" in non-organic form.
EWG's Clean Fifteen 2020
A few years ago, when I started paying attention to EWG's lists, I was surprised to see corn on the clean list.
I know that corn is a highly genetically modified crop and that a lot of the US corn crop has been sprayed with Round-Up weed killer. (The corn seeds are modified so that they don't die from Round-Up while surrounding weeds do die. The modified seed is actually called Round-Up Ready.)
When I dug deeper on the EWG site, they explain that the sweet corn raised and sold for direct consumption is not genetically modified. Almost all other corn in the US, is GMO. That corn is used for ethanol fuel, animal feed, corn flour, corn starch, corn syrup, and cooking oil. So—while non-organic corn on the cob and kernel corn is low-pesticide the same is NOT true for other corn-sourced food products.
The cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage) on the Clean 15 list also made my anti-anxiety Best Foods for Stress Resilience list that I talk about in Feed Your Calm: Anti-Anxiety Anti-Stress Diet and Supplement Tips for Stress Resilience.
EWG's Dirty Dozen 2020
Berries and cherries are on my Anti-Anxiety Foods list. Strawberries are the worst offenders for pesticide residue. They should be avoided unless you can find and afford the organic versions. Focus on other berries instead.
Cherries are also among the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables, though they are further down the list than strawberries. Again, simply substitute other berries in your diet if organic isn't an option.
- Ann Silvers