Are you like me? Do you struggle with whether or not you should be buying organic food? Do you feel guilty if you do–because of money, and guilty if you don’t–because of the health of your family?
I should stop right here and define organic, and give all the great reasons why we should be eating organic, but I won’t. With the popularity of organic eating and living on the rise, I would only be repeating information that is already out there, and I’m sure that most of us understand the difference between organic and non-organic. In case you don’t, here is a brief article on why organic foods are better for us than foods produced by industrial agriculture. Carry on.
I don’t know about you, but my pocketbook screams when I go over my monthly budget on food—or is that me? Regardless of where the scream comes from, it still means the same thing—there is less money for other things in my budget for the next two weeks.
On the other hand, my conscience is pricked (hard) when while I’m shopping I choose to purchase non-organic, when there is a perfectly good organic counterpart available. Often, there isn’t but a fifty-cent difference, but often it’s more, which really makes it difficult to pay 33-100% more for that counterpart.
So what’s a girl to do when she wants to “go organic” but doesn’t want to break the bank?
Here are a few guidelines that have helped me along in my switching-to-organic journey:
- Start with the obvious first. At least a small array of affordable organic fruits and veggies are available at most stores, so you can start there. Work on making sure to purchase the organic version of the fruits and vegetables you normally buy if possible. Sometimes you will find that the price is just too high to pay for an organic version, and that’s ok. Just purchase what you can afford and don’t worry about the rest—you can only do what you can do, and there’s no use feeling guilty about it. However, if you can afford it, make a point to do what is good for you and your family and purchase the organic version. In doing so, you are also voting with your dollars for organic, which, in turn, may reflect on your store’s inventory sheet, perhaps compelling them to stock more organic choices.
- Keep in mind that buying less can ensure that what you buy won’t go to waste. I have found that when my refrigerator is overflowing with food, I tend to forget that I have all that I have in there. If we will only purchase what we will realistically use in a week or two, it is more likely that every last bit will be used and not lost.
- Don’t fret if your store doesn’t carry organic everything. Sometimes all of the things you normally buy will not be available at your store. If you can visit another store to fill the rest of your organic needs affordably, then do so. However, if you can’t, just start where you are at and “perfect” the habit of purchasing the organic that is available to you—but only what you will use until you visit the store next.
- Understand that small changes are just the tip of the iceberg. You may find that as you focus on making small changes toward organic eating, your mind will change in regards to other foods as well. For me, I began to feel compelled to quit buying so much processed food, and have mastered a few homemade versions. While these homemade versions of processed foods are not 100% organic, I mention it because homemade versions are often cheaper to make than buying the boxed versions, which tends to free up some of your food budget.
- Join a food co-op and buy your dry goods in bulk. Presently, I buy from two food co-ops; one local to me called UNFI, and one not-so-local, which is called Azure Standard. Both of these co-ops afford me the ability to spend less money on better food. Buying in bulk assures me that I will have organic ingredients on hand, without breaking the bank.
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of how to make the change to organic. However, by making small changes to your shopping habits (and your mind), you can experience more success and less guilt. In time, you will find that you are feeding your family better and more naturally because you chose to start small and accept and enjoy all of the victories along the way.
Do you have any guilt-free tips to share? I’d love to hear them!