How to Eat Organic Without Going Bankrupt


lettuceWhat's the number-one reason why more people don't buy organic food? Because it's darn expensive. Organic food almost always costs more than conventional food -- at least that's the case at the grocery store. It seems kind of unfair that not everyone can afford to eat lettuce that hasn't been sprayed with chemicals or grown on soil loaded with fertilizers made from petroleum, but that's the world we live in. Oh well!

Are there any exceptions to that rule? If there were, would you buy more organic food?

Turns out if you're willing to go just a little bit out of your way, you can buy organic and save money -- on a few fruits and veggies, anyway. Keep reading to find out where.

Turns out some organic foods at the farmers' market are cheaper than the same conventional foods at the grocery store! That's the case in Vermont, anyway. A recent comparison of grocery store produce and farmers' market produce there revealed a few surprises, including that organic is a lot closer to affordable at the farmers' market.

The standout is lettuce. Organic lettuce at the farmers' market is $6.61 a pound, while the same conventionally grown lettuce is $9.64 a pound at the grocery store. Three bucks cheaper! Organic farmers' market cantaloupe and snow peas are also cheaper than conventional at the grocery store.

Comparing organic apples to organic apples, farmers' markets are still cheaper. On average, organic at the farmers' market is 38% cheaper than at the grocery store. That means if you spent $30 on organic produce at the grocery store, you could get the same stuff at the farmers' market for $18.60. You would save $11.40.

And when it comes to conventional foods at the farmers' market vs. at the grocery store, the farmers' market is still a better deal. On average, fruits and vegetables at the farmers' market were found to be 9-19% less expensive than those found at the grocery stores. (The big exception is potatoes -- those are consistently more expensive at the farmers' market.)

What's more, a lot of the produce sold at the farmers' market as "conventional" is very close to organic. Many small-to-midsized farms grow food using organic practices but aren't officially certified organic by the USDA. All you have to do is ask the farmers (since they're right there) what kinds of pest control and fertilizers they use.

Have you compared prices at the grocery store and your nearest farmers' market?

Image via La Grande Farmers' Market/Flickr

food, grocery shopping, healthy choices, organics, savings


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

Madel... MadelynMc

Love this! We joined a local produce CSA that is not certified organic, but meets most of the requirments. We get about 10 pounds of produce per week for about $18. The catch is that you have to pay it all up front and that you don't get to pick and choose, but it actually makes cooking a little easier if I don't have to decide what to buy. Last week we got strawberries, radishes, salad greens, some kind of fancy lettuce, 2 heads of bok choy and green onions. I'm really excited to see what we get every week. We're also doing a local meat CSA so I'm pretty excited for that, too.

nonmember avatar Brianna

Another reason to eat organic: 90% of pesticides contain a chemical that mimics estrogen and causes you to gain weight. Grow your own if you can :)

JHanc968 JHanc968

I haven't yet but I am going to!!

UneVi... UneVieChic

I'm part of an organic CSA and love it!  I'm pregnant, so I've stuck with the full share for this year (even though the husband is in Iraq the first part of summer).  Which means I pick out 8 items of produce (such as a container of tomatoes, a bunch of beets, a head of lettuce, etc) for what comes down to less than $25 a week.  We compared the value to the store and it was ridiculously cheaper....even compared to the military commissary!  While at the farmer's market we wander and pick out other things like locally made cheese, mushrooms, fresh beans, etc.  All pretty cheap.

Leele... Leelee1008

never really got into the whole organic movement

nonmember avatar Mitravinda

Prices of organic foods include not only the cost of the food production itself, but also a range other benefits that are not shown in the price of conventional food such as:
•Environmental enhancement and protection
•Ensuring soil health
•Water conservation
•Enhancing Biodiversity, ensuring a vast germplasm for future generation
•Avoidance of health risks to farmers due to inappropriate handling of pesticides
•Consumer benefit in long term by avoiding pesticides residue intake
•Bringing sustainability and profitability to the small farm holdings, stemming rural urban migration

Madel... MadelynMc

Good point mitravinda. Also, the cost of organics most likely reflects the *true* cost of agriculture because organic farmers don't receive government subsidies.

KamiB79 KamiB79

Our local farmers market hasn't opened yet.

clean... cleanaturalady

I have compared and there are a few local (organic) produce buys that are a better value than conventional.

RanaA... RanaAurora

I go to a store that sells locally grown produce and imported (from as close as possible) organic produce. ALL of it, with an exception of the milk, is cheaper than the grocery store, and tastes WAAAAAY better.

1-10 of 27 comments 123 Last