Every time I wander through the grocery store with our grocery list in hand, I am bombarded by signs for organic food. And holy cow, it’s expensive! It makes me wonder, is organic food worth it? Is it possible to buy organic food in a budget?
The Benefits of Organic Food
There are several benefits to eating organic food. According to Consumer Reports, since organic foods are made with fewer pesticides and chemicals, you’re putting less chemicals in your body. As a result, you are more likely to save on healthcare costs associated with poor eating habits. This is especially important for kids and pregnant women.
When you buy organic, you’re also supporting local farms and communities who grow organic crops and raise chemical free animals.
Why is Organic Food So Expensive?
If you’ve ever bought organic food, it’s not hard to notice that it’s often times more expensive than its non-organic alternatives. There are plenty of good reasons for this.
- In order to be considered an organic farm, you must be licensed and certified. This costs money.
- Also, because organic farms don’t use synthetic (thanks for the correction Annette) pesticides and chemicals, growing produce and raising livestock is much more labor intensive. As a result, farmers need to charge a higher price for their goods to be ensured a livable income.
- Most organic certified operations are small scale farms, which don’t run as efficiently as larger operations. Less efficiency means more expensive.
Is Organic Food Worth the Extra Costs?
This is a question only you can answer. I think it comes down to your priorities. Your budget is a great illustration of what you value. Where are you spending the most money? How much do you already spend on food each month? The last thing you want is to go over budget by splurging on more expensive organic food.
If you decide organic food is really a priority for you, figure out a way to make it work. Spending more money on food simply means you need to cut back and spend less in a different category. If you truly value organic grown food and livestock, free of chemical enhancements, then you will probably argue yes it’s worth the extra costs.
There is also a lot of research available that argues that there’s no conclusive evidence that organic food is healthier than non-organic. I’ve done a little reading in this area too, and I still don’t know what to believe. I’ll share one of the articles so you can read for yourself.
How The Griffins Prioritize the Grocery Budget
I’ve been asked by a close friend how we prioritize our spending; does our budget revolve around buying the cheapest food available or do we choose local or organic food? I think this is a great question, and how we answer it significantly affects our food weekly food budget.
The short answer is, we prioritize our budget around the cheapest food options available. Or at least we did while we were aggressively paying off our student loans. Now that we are debt free though, we have more freedom to spend more lavishly if we choose. However, we still don’t place a high priority on organic food. It’s much more expensive, and for us, spending more money on food takes away from achieving our other savings goals.
If we chose to buy all organic food, our food budget would skyrocket. Take a look at the charts on this website. Almost all organic food listed costs at least 10% more, and some products over 100% more! That would easily double or triple our food budget for each week, which for a long time was $60. As a result, we would probably still be paying off our student loans.
That doesn’t mean we don’t value eating healthy food, because we absolutely do! We eat a healthy, balanced diet, but it just doesn’t consist of organically raised food.
3 Tips to Buy Organic Food on a Budget
If you choose to buy organic food, I’ve got a few tips to help you save money in the process!
1. Look for sales on organic food
Almost everything goes on sale at some point, and everyone loves a good sale. If you wait to stock up when food is on sale, especially meat, then you can save money. Plus, buying in bulk nearly always cuts down on costs in the long run if you can afford to pony up the dough up front.
2. Organic Produce is the Closest in Price to Non-organic
You can see it in the Consumer Reports charts for yourself, but on average, organic produce compares most closely to non-organic alternatives. If you’re thinking about dipping your toes into the pool of organic food, produce is a great place to start.
3. Buy in Season and Take Advantage of Farmer’s Markets
If you buy a lot of fruits and veggies, you probably already know this. When food is “in season” it tends to be cheaper because you’re not paying for the extra costs to produce it out of season. Also, farmer’s markets can have a lot of delicious, locally grown food for a good price. However, just because you can buy it at the farmer’s market doesn’t mean it’s organic. It still needs the organic certification and licensing.
Wrapping it Up
So, can you buy organic food on a budget? The answer depends on your budget, your priorities, and what food options are available to you. Whatever you choose, I think it’s great food for thought! 🙂
Let Me Know in the Comments
Is organic food worth the extra costs? How do you prioritize your food budget?