Sunday, April 27, 2008

How to Shop for Organic Products on a Budget

Think organic products are more expensive? Think again! There are simple strategies you can use to save money and shop organically too.

1. Be sure you are really getting what you pay for.

When buying organic produce, make sure it is being displayed separately from the regular produce. One little-know-fact is that store owners are legally required to display organic product where it will not be contaminated by water run-off created when conventional produce is misted. This run-off could contain pesticide residue.

2. Don't be mislead by the label "natural." Sometimes these products are mixed in with organic products but the label "all natural" doesn't mean a product is organic. Check the labels for additives and chemicals.

3. Make sure the product is USDA certified organic and always check labels, even if the product says it is organic. Laws and restrictions are not well enforced by the USDA.

Some tips from ShopSmart Magazine to save money on organics:

1. Search the Internet for coupons for organic brands. Check the websites for major brands like Stonyfield Farm, Earthbound Farm and Health Valley offer coupons.

2. Try discount stores such as Walmart, Sams Club and Costco. I've found many Costco brand organic products there under the Kirkland brand that really DO save you money. Check between retailers to see who offers the best deal.

3. Check out the bulk bins of your local grocery store for organic products. Bulk bins are usually cheaper.

4. Look for store brands of organic products. Krogers now has Kroger's Private Selection organic which costs less than name brands. I've tried many of Kroger's organic products and been impressed with the flavor and quality. Whole Foods offers its Whole Foods market's 365 Organic Every Day Value and Safeway offers O Organics.

5. Join a food coop. I belong to an organic food coop where I get a large bin of fresh fruits and veggies twice a month for $50 each. All is certified organic and much of it is locally grown, at least grown in my state, which is Texas. My coop also offers bulk orders yearly on organic berries, fish and other specials. With group buying power you can save money. Check Local Harvest for more information on a coop in your area.

6. Buy bulk organic produce in season when it's the cheapest and either can or freeze what you can for later. Check for local U-Pick farms that are organic or check to see if local organic farmers offer memberships for their products.

This last tip is from my own experience. If you'd like to use organic cleaning products or organic skin care products but think you can't afford them, you might check out ONEGroup, which sells Miessence, MiEnviron and MiVitality products, which includes skin and body care and organic cleaning products.

It costs $60 to sign up for a lifetime membership in OneGroup and with that you receive a discount on products, free shipping and a free website to promote the organic lifestyle to others. You earn a commission on any preferred customer sales, which you can use to help pay for your own purchases.

You can make a change to organic products one step at a time, looking for ways to save money along the way. The organic lifestyle pays off in increased health, not only for you, but for the planet.

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