Apples: $.69 lb. Organic Apples: $1.79 lb.
Milk: $2.49 gallon. Organic Milk: $6.00 gallon
With the price differences being so drastic, how does one make a justifiable decision on what groceries to purchase? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in the grocery store, with “regular” food in one hand and organic in the other, fretting over which item to buy. In those situations, you just have to make the best choice possible.
We all have different family sizes with different budgets, and we all know what sort of food quantity we need to bring home in order to get us through the week. Understand that everyone’s spending and shopping level is going to be different. My grocery haul for a small family of three is going to be drastically different than one with four children. So, what I spend versus what you spend isn’t even even comparable. No one is “right” and no one is “wrong” as long as you are making wise decisions.
When switching to an organic diet, I do not recommend going out and replacing every single item in your fridge and pantry with an organic substitute. For one, you’re going to spend a needless fortune. Instead, as your regular staples run out, replace them one at a time. This will allow you and your family to ease into the change instead of slamming the organic label into everyone at once. Secondly, you don’t want your children freaking out with all of the “health food” that you are making them eat. Automatically, they’ll think “organic” as having a negative connotation. You certainly do not want that. Incorporating products here and there will help them realize it’s not such a huge change after all. For most of the items, they won’t even recognize a difference (flour, sugar, butter, etc.)
If I have $100 or less for the week, and know I have certain items to purchase, here is my personal rule of thumb. When I’m down to the end of my shopping list, and I need to stretch those last few dollars, I turn to reading the food labels. If I recognize all of the ingredients, even if the product is not organic, I am more likely to substitute. For instance, let’s consider cheese…we eat a lot of it. I’m not sure I’m ready to give up so much of my grocery money on a product that I already consider rather “natural.” Therefore, I’ll buy the conventional brand in order to purchase the more expensive organic fresh fruit. Even with produce, there are smart choices to be made. Following the “Dirty Dozen Cheat Sheet” is a good place to turn if you are unsure about the cleanliness of fruits and vegetables.
This week, make a conscious effort to notice what you are putting in your grocery cart. Take out that case of soda and package of pre-made cookies and replace them with something yummy and nutritious! What healthy decisions will YOU make?
The entire Affording Organics series: