Buying Organic on a Budget

I’m often asked questions by clients about how affordable it really is to eat healthfully, or more specifically to eat organically. Oprah recently had Michael Pollan (author of Food Rules , In Defense of Food, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma and contributor to the movie Food Inc.) on her show. And today, her website posted this article by an writer who attempted to follow the movie’s guidance AND stick to her budget.

I thought I’d share it with you, as it makes the case that while there are financial tradeoffs involved, they are not insurmountable, and can be readily overcome through cost savings in other budget areas. Beyond that, they are WORTH it, and we need to start thinking about finding the best quality as our objective when buying food as opposed to finding the lowest cost.

From a personal perspective, when my family converted to organic milk, I was a little worried about DOUBLING the cost of milk with two preschool-age milk-drinkers in the house. In truth the extra six or seven dollars a week for the two gallons they drink was easily recouped by cutting back on other things (like brewing my own coffee vs buying it from a coffee shop or taking a lunch vs. buying it at work one day a week). Once I’d convinced myself of the value of organic milk, these were pretty easy ideas to generate!

Organic meats took us a bit longer to try and I’m not 100% converted yet but I do now buy organic MOST of the time. Organic meat is definitely more expensive, so it’s helped us to view meat as something we need less of overall…and to really savor what we do buy.

That’s the whole game as far as I’m concerned…quality over quantity….excellence over frequency. It’s a process to change the way we’ve been taught to think about food (which I would paraphrase as “get as much of it as you can, as cheaply as possible”) but it’s nice to see other writers helping to explain that the effort is one worth undertaking.

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