If you think that only health buffs are taking the organic route when it comes to buying their food, think again. These days, even regular households, health conscious individuals and concerned moms are buying more and more into the trend. There are good and bad points to this. What’s good is that organic is mostly healthier than non-organic food variants, but the downside is that organic food is generally more expensive.
To give you an idea about how popular organic food is, here are a few stats from Statista.com:
- For 2013, organic supplements have a share of 23% of the market in the US. For 2014, organic food and beverage sales made up 67% of all organic sales. This is predicted to increase by 68% by 2018.
- In 2011, fruits and vegetables were the leading organic food category, claiming a sales share of 42.2% of all organic food sales. This is projected to grow to a share of 43.4%.
- The demand for organic food is driven by personal health and environmental reasons. Another major reason for consuming organic food is that consumers are concerned about exposure to toxins in non-organic food, which correlates to the fact that buyers believe organic is more nutritious than other food.
- In 2012, organic food sales in the US reached $31.32 billion and are predicted to grow to $42 billion by the year 2014.
- Natural and organic food is the fastest-growing food sector in the US. It makes up 5.8% of total food sales in 2010.
- In 2012, around 40.39 million people purchased organic food.
- For the past five years, here is how high the sales of organic food has been in the US:
- 2010 – $28.9 billion
- 2011 – $32.1 billion
- 2012 – $35.4 billion
- 2013 – $38.7 billion
- 2014 – $42 billion
What’s Organic Food & Why Should I Consume It?
Next, what’s the difference between organic and conventional food, and why do most people prefer this variant? When you compare two apples in the supermarket which come from the non-organic and organic sections, you will hardly find any difference. However, the way that the two apples are grown is very different. The organic variant is grown without using conventional methods of fertilizing and controlling the weeds growing on the trees. Instead, natural fertilizers and weed fighters are used to make sure that no chemicals seep into the fruit once it is harvested.
Thankfully, you won’t have to check whether fruits, veggies or other items are grown organically. The US Department of Agriculture has a certification program which requires all organic food items to meet strict government standards. This means that the way that organic food items are grown, handled and processed is monitored – so consumers can get only the best available in the market. When a product is certified as 95% or more organic, the producers may display the USDA Organic seal.
Food items which are 100% organic means that they are completely organic, or are made of all-organic ingredients. For plain organic food items, they should be at least 95% organic. For food items or products which contain at least 70% organic, the label can only say that it is made with organic ingredients, and the USDA seal cannot be used.
Although there’s no difference in the nutrient content of organically and conventionally grown food, some people choose the latter because of the lack of pesticides and food additives. Organic farming is also friendlier towards the environment so even if there’s a difference in the price, some people still prefer to go organic. Lastly, organically-grown food promotes animal welfare and some say that the food simply tastes better than non-organic.
11 Easy Ways to Save Money on Organic Food
If you would like to go organic but you don’t want to increase your weekly grocery budget for it, what can you do? Here are some easy ways to get the best bang for your buck when buying organic food:
1. Buy organic ingredients in bulk.
When it comes to organic food, you will save more money by buying ingredients in bulk. For those small packets of organic rice or quinoa, you are actually paying more as compared to the bigger bags because of the packaging and specialized containers used. If you stumble upon a local farmer selling organic tomatoes for a very reasonable price, buy them in bulk and store in the fridge, or use in spaghetti sauce that should keep for days, or sun-dry them.
2. Have a shopping list handy.
Many websites have a list of the organic food items that you can prioritize. Following the list will save you money and give you the most benefits from going organic. The top food items include:
- Meat (100% grass-fed, antibiotic/growth hormone-free, non-GMO)
- Corn, zucchini, yellow squash, soybeans, canola, sugar beets, papaya and cotton seed oil
- Apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, leafy greens, berries, sweet bell peppers
- Organic eggs
- Dried herbs and spices
3. Know how to read food labels.
There are some terms which are not necessarily worth the extra cost, like free-roaming or cage-free when buying organic eggs. All you have to do is look for the terms USDA Organic, Certified Organic or 100% Organic on the label.
4. Grow your own organic food.
What better way is there to go organic than by growing some of your own food? Go online and look for sources on how you can create a vegetable or mini-fruit garden using organic farming techniques. Start from herbs and spices, then small veggies like tomatoes or peppers, and from there, you can grow your very own organic garden.
5. Don’t just look for organic food items at Whole Foods.
A store which has a reputation for selling overpriced organic goods is Whole Foods. Although there’s nothing wrong in buying some of the classics from their store, you do not have to limit yourself with their selection. There are plenty of other stores like Walmart, ALDI, Stop & Shop, Giant, and Target which all have their very own line of organic products.
6. Look for local organic food suppliers.
Check out the local farmers’ markets in your area, or even ask the local food growers if they sell organic products. Supporting the products of the local community is always a good idea, and you can always ask for neighborly discounts.
7. Make your own organic trail mixes, granola bars or snacks.
After buying your organic ingredients in bulk, there are very easy recipes that you can follow to make your own trail mix, granola bar or muesli mixes. When you buy these in pre-packaged containers with organic on the label, they are bound to cost a lot of money. You can just as easily make them yourself and carry the end product with you for a quick snack when you’re on the go or at work.
8. You don’t have to go organic all the way.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have when going organic is that once they take this route, they cannot buy anything else without organic on the label. This is not necessarily true. If you do that, your grocery bills will increase by almost half – something you don’t want to happen if you are looking forward to saving money.
What you can do is be selective in buying organic. If you’re buying fruits or veggies, for example, will you be consuming the skin? If not, then you can easily buy the non-organic version of it and save a lot of money. Some examples include coconuts, lemons, oranges and bananas. Apples, on the other hand, are usually eaten with the skin on so you might want to choose organic for that.
9. Look for coupons or discount vouchers online.
Take the old fashioned route of clipping coupons from magazines if you find ones that will give you discounts on organic food items. You can also go online – sites like Amazon.com have programs like the ‘Subscribe and Save’ where you can get a certain percentage of discount on food products which you will sign up for.
10. Take advantage of sales and ‘buy one, get one free’ offers from retailers.
Most stores run sales or have ‘buy one, get one free’ offers to tempt those who would like to go organic. Since this is fast becoming a way of life, you will frequently see establishments with such offers for their organic goods.
11. Go comparison shopping.
Finally, go comparison shopping when buying organic goods. Sometimes, one store will offer organic eggs for a fraction of the price as compared to another store – so take note of which products are sold at a lesser rate on which stores.
As more and more people are going organic, you can easily join the bandwagon without having to break the bank. With these easy, money-saving tips, you can enjoy the taste and health benefits of buying organic food.