This guest post on ways to eat organic food on a budget is written by Chad Kearns.
Tired of those chicken Ramen noodles you cook up night after night? Are you in college and on a tight budget but are looking for a way to eat organically? Don’t worry, it is possible. Here are five great ways to eat organic food on a college budget.
1. Buy Direct from Local Farmers
Go right to the source for your organic produce needs. Buying direct from the farmers in your area is not only a great way to help the local economy, but it also offers a way to purchase the freshest foods from your region. Look for a farmers’ market in your surrounding neighborhoods. You may need to plan ahead though- most farmers’ markets are only open once a week. When buying directly from regional farmers you won’t need to worry about supermarket mark-ups, which will save you some money.
2. Buy Seasonal Items
Don’t anticipate keeping your budget in check if you’re expecting to buy organic strawberries, oranges, and mangos all year round. In most regions of the country, produce prices strongly fluctuate with the seasons. Look to buy seasonal items that come along with lower price tags throughout the year.
In the winter, broccoli and carrots are in season and less expensive to buy organically. The spring brings plenty of cherries and apricots. When the summer months arrive, you’ll be able to enjoy those organically grown tropical fruits you’ve been craving.
3. Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk is a great way find value in your favorite organic treats. As the trend of organic eating continues to grow stronger, warehouse stores across the country are beginning to carry organic bulk items to stretch your dollars even further. As a college student, buying produce in bulk, which spoils quickly, may not be the best idea. However, buying grains and long-lasting food items in bulk serves as a way to save a ton of money while still enjoying the organic lifestyle.
4. Join a Food Co-op
While the majority of co-op’s do require membership fees in order to join, the benefits to co-op owners are immense. Usually, co-op’s are paired with a locally-owned grocery store that offer regular discounts to members. Also, being part of a co-op provides a strong community tie with local farmers, connecting you to the freshest produce in your area.
5. Grow Your Own Food
Although this may be the most challenging and time consuming way to eat organically on a budget, it is by far the most effective, and it can be a lot of fun. When growing for yourself, you know exactly what goes into your food from start to finish. As a college student, the biggest challenge may be finding a place to grow your food. Look for community gardens in your area, or join forces with friends who may have a small yard. If you are able to commit the time and dedication necessary to keeping up a garden, this will prove to be the best way to limit your food bills.
Don’t Forget to Keep in Mind…
Odds are that you will not be able to live purely on organic foods while in school. It is vital to prioritize which organic items are most important to you when shopping. Keep in mind that meat and dairy products have been proven to show the highest levels of pesticides and hormones in them. It is important to decide which organic foods are most important to you when shopping for your next meal.
What are your favorite ways to eat organic food while on a small budget? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured image courtesy of kthread via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).