I know we’ve all been reminded a million+one times that organic is better, but all this talk about organic can stress a frugal girl out! I’ll try to make it easy for you. If your budget only allows for certain things, try to buy these “dirty dozen” foods organically, and then do the best that you can with the rest. These “dirty dozen” produce items are found to have the highest levels of harmful chemicals and should be avoided if not purchased organically.
First and foremost – in my house, the happy medium for produce not purchased organically, is what I grow in my garden. Growing your own produce is by far the cheapest source of organic dirty dozen foods. If you’re in an apartment or don’t have land, there’s always container-gardening. You typically won’t have as big of a garden as if you planted one in your back yard, but it will do the trick. My advice is to choose a few things you will eat a lot of, i.e. tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers – and focus on those. This will help keep your back deck from turning into an Amazonia.
Second, there are co-ops where you can “rent” land for a small fee to plant your own garden. These can be difficult to locate, so search online and ask around in your local community.
Third, you can stake out local farmers markets. These usually happen once or twice a week, so stock up on your favorites, clean, and freeze if need be.
Fourth, there is something called Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA). With a CSA, individuals can invest upfront in local farms and farmers, and in return, they get a box of fruits/veggies every week. It’s a great way to try produce that you wouldn’t normally try because it shows up on your doorstep (and most of the time, it comes with recipes!). Depending on the CSA you join, there are ¼ share, ½ share, or whole share options (each varying by investment cost).
Lastly, but certainly not least, there are good frozen options out there. Certain brands are better than others, but typically, the produce is ‘fresh frozen’. This option is great in the non-growing season so you don’t have to go without your favorite foods if you don’t want to. Plus, frozen organic is really reasonably priced.
Good luck to you all in your journey to stay ‘clean’!