I’m very proud of how healthy I eat. It hasn’t always been this way but I’ve evolved to truly appreciate the quality of my food. I would say at least 95% of my diet is organic. How do I do that on a budget? Let me share some of my practices.
First of all I grow as much of my own produce as possible. During this past winter I had my first cold season garden. I grew several different types of lettuce, kale, swiss chard, carrots and turnips. Even though it was a long, cold winter, all I used was 4ml plastic over my containers and I ate fresh food from my back yard all winter long. I was amazed at how easy it was. In my opinion, it’s simpler and less work than a warm season garden. But having said that, I love my summer garden. I have several types of tomatoes and peppers growing, plus cucumbers, melons, and squash (summer and winter). By growing my own food, it saves me time and money since I’m not running to the grocery store as frequently.
I’m also trying to eat food in season and that is produced locally. This past winter I didn’t eat any fresh tomatoes or zucchini as they weren’t in season. Food like this has to be trucked in from places like California, Argentina or even China and that just adds to the carbon foot print of the item. Plus the cost is quite high during the off season. That said, I do like bananas and avocados and will indulge in them intermittently.
Many of my patients that do not grow their own produce participate in Community Sponsored Agriculture or CSAs. You can learn more about them at www.localharvest.org for more info. Papa Spuds is very popular in the area as well as http://www.theproducebox.com/.
I buy as many food items as possible in bulk whether from a natural foods store or online. I buy my beans, nuts, seeds, and grains in bulk and store them in ½ gallon mason jars at home. I no longer by canned beans as that is significantly more expensive then buying the dry beans. I keep my eye on sales flyers as well.
As for meat and dairy, I get most of mine from farmers. There are farmer’s markets all over the Triangle and are a great place to get meat that has been from humanely treated animals without the use of hormones or antibiotics.
For most of this year, Earthfare has had an email/coupon program that you sign up for and every Wednesday they email you a coupon for an item in the store. Twice now I’ve gotten a free pound of shrimp. Organic coffee, ice cream, produce and many others I can’t recall right now have been available free with these coupons. Go to Earthfare.com to sign up.
I believe both Whole Foods and Earthfare offer case discounts on items in their stores. I believe it’s 10% in both stores. This is another way of buying bulk and making fewer trips to the grocery store!
Lastly, there are coops available to participate in. At work, we have a coop/buying club that about 7 of us participate in with Frontier Natural Foods Coop and Wilderness Family Naturals. Check the companies out online to learn how to start your own buying club. Other opportunities for buying clubs can be found through http://www.montanawheat.com/ and http://www.
organicsproutedflour.net/. I’m constantly looking for more opportunities to pass on to folks. So, if you know about a buying club/coop opportunity, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a fantasy of mine to start a non-profit, community owned food coop in the area!