After writing about how I’ve made the change to buying all organic foods, I’ve received lots of questions about how I’ve been able to make that happen within budget. Purchasing all-organic groceries is only slightly more expensive than buying conventional and has also provided an extra cost-saving bonus: improving my nutrition with an organic diet has saved me money on healthcare costs too. Today, I’m sharing how I save money on organic groceries.
My 4 Grocery Shopping Rules:
Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. I’m a sucker for a good deal, so I have to resist temptation and be intentional about buying only what I need. If I don’t follow this rule, I usually end up spending more than I planned.
Check for coupons before you check-out. While I’m not much of a coupon-er, I do check for coupons at the store before I purchase. At Whole Foods, they have a wall of coupons to look through when you walk in the store. And many stores, like Sprouts and Natural Grocers, put their coupon ads on their website; I’ll look on my phone while in line or before I walk in the store. You can save even more by looking for coupons in the weekly mailed ads, especially if you create your grocery list around those deals. Most coupons are for processed foods, but I often find some for fresh items too at the stores I list below.
Make a list and stick to it.Plan out your meals for the week and make a shopping list. Knowing what you need to buy keeps you from wandering throughout the store and buying things you don’t need. I also have a running list of always-needed items, like toiletries, coconut oil and dog food, that I look for regularly and buy when they’re on sale.
Buy fresh.Processed and pre-prepared foods are always more expensive than the actual ingredients. Stick to the edge of the store as you shop and load up with fresh items to cook at home. The bulk of your cart should be filled with organic produce & meat, not cardboard or plastic packages.
Where I Shop for the Best Deals:
Whole Foods – This might come as a surprise with the common nickname “whole paycheck,” but Whole Foods has actually had to reduce its prices lately to compete. I regularly shop at Whole Foods and find some great deals. The hardest part is staying away from all the yummy pre-prepared food they have available… just don’t go shopping hungry!
Natural Grocers – This store always has incredible sales throughout the store. They get much of their produce directly from local farmers and since it doesn’t have to travel miles on a truck to get there, it’s usually cheaper. Plus, if you use your debit card, you can save 5% on your total purchase.
Sprouts – Sprouts coupons run Wednesday-Wednesday, which means that on Wednesdays, they have double the amount of deals available than any other day of the week. If you happen to be shopping on a Wednesday, this is the place to save money.
Farmers Market – Buying direct from the source saves on overhead costs, which ultimately saves you money. The best bonus here is that you’re supporting local farmers and ranchers who are passionate about providing healthy food options to their community.
Thrive Market – Think Whole Foods meets Costco meets Amazon. It’s an online shop that offers wholesale pricing on non-perishable organic foods, toiletries, vitamins and more. And, you get free shipping on orders over $49. Thrive Market is also socially conscious: they use recyclable packaging and when you sign up as a member, Thrive will donate a membership to a low-income family so they too can have access to lower cost organic foods. Get a 30-day free trial membership and 15% off your first order by signing up here!
Instacart – If you have a hard time buying more than what’s on your list when you grocery shop (or just don’t have time/hate going to the store), you should check this site out. Here’s the deal: You pick what you want online, an Instacart shopper does all the shopping for you and then delivers your groceries to your front door at the time slot you choose. Whole Foods is a store option and the prices are usually the same as in-store; the only extra cost is a delivery fee. Since this process let’s you see exactly how items are adding up as you shop, I feel like it keeps me to my exact shopping list and budget. PLUS, Instacart will shop at Cost-Co without you having a membership to shop there, so that gets you even more savings. Get $5 off your first order here!
Where do I not shop for organic foods? My regular local grocery store, HEB. The organic items are always more expensive, sometimes even double the cost of a natural foods store. So, if you’ve been comparing prices and seeing how expensive that organic apple is compared to its conventional counterpart, consider that it may be the store you’re at.
Think you can make the switch to buying all organic groceries? Or have any tips to share? I’d love to hear from you!
In 1943, a miraculous drug known as penicillin made its way into our world. WWII soldiers’ lives were saved. Simple infections no longer risked death. It changed everything. The development of new antibiotics continued, becoming more widespread and saving millions of lives. Now, antibiotics are essential to all modern medical technology, especially for enabling recovery from surgeries.
While antibiotics have saved many lives, they’re not without risk. As each new antibiotic has been created, the bacteria have developed resistance. The creator of penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming, warned:
“The thoughtless person playing with penicillin treatment is morally responsible for the death of the man who succumbs to infection with the penicillin-resistant organism”
Every time your body is exposed to an antibiotic, the most sensitive bacteria are killed and the remaining get the opportunity to learn how to mutate. Since antibiotics do not discriminate, they kill both good and bad bacteria, ultimately weakening your immune system and leaving the stronger ones to flourish and multiply without good bacteria to balance them.
Not only are we giving ample opportunity for antibiotic-resistant “super-bugs” to flourish, but antibiotics also cause permanent damage to your own gut flora. Recent studies are suggesting that the boost in antibiotic use could be what’s behind the increase in issues like autism, ADD, Alzheimer’s and other brain dysfunction. This is why a daily probiotic (helps promote good bacteria) and healthy, non-inflammatory diet are crucial.
Having had pneumonia and chronic respiratory infections as a kid, I took a lot of antibiotics. While they may have helped in those cases, I was also prescribed many antibiotics when I didn’t need them- the most crazy being for acne for eightyears… yikes! My immune system was essentially destroyed and I was sick all the time; medication & additional antibiotics couldn’t help me. Thankfully, the Lord healed me and I’ve since discovered how I can keep my immune system functioning properly through nutrition, supplements and essential oils. Now, my body is equipped to do it’s job and fight infections naturally; that’s a really good thing since I’m now allergic to nearly all antibiotics and can’t take them when I get sick.
Resistance is an inevitable process that was fully expected, but it is occurring much quicker than anticipated.Why?
Many 3rd world countries have these drugs available over-the-counter, allowing overexposure
In the US, 45-50% of the antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary, meaning they are given for conditions for which antibiotics cannot help at all (for example: viral infections)
Animals are pumped full of antibiotics to protect them from factory farming conditions and to make them fatter – 80% of all the antibiotics sold in the US go to farms and thus into the meat & dairy we eat.
Antibiotic resistance is currently causing 700,000 deaths per year, and it’s getting worse. New antibiotics cannot be developed and tested in the time it takes for resistance to develop. We are drawing near to a future that looks a lot like the pre-antibiotic world. While that’s a little overwhelming, you and I can take some small steps towards change that, together, can make a real difference:
If prescribed an antibiotic, ask your doctor if it is actually necessary (is a bacteria or virus causing the infection?) or to test if the kind prescribed will actually be effective against that particular bacteria.
The source of this information is a fascinating TEDHealth Talk: What do we do when antibiotics don’t work anymore? I highly recommend you take a few minutes and watch it now:
For additional info…
If you have HBO GO/NOW, you should also check out VICE Season 3: Episode 6 for a real look at what antibiotic resistance looks like (preview here).
Listen to the famous neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter speak on the Bulletproof Radio podcast for a fascinating discussion of why what’s going on in our gut actually affects the brain.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and the above statements are not intended to recommend nor discourage any form of treatment. This post is simply meant to provide information so that you can make informed choices on your health.
We’ve all been there… you’re in the grocery store looking at the rows of meat, most on sale for only a few dollars per pound. You’re overwhelmed with all the confusing labels, not even sure what they really mean. You see the small section of organic meat and they want to charge you an outrageous $13 for a package of chicken breasts. Considering you need a 3 of those for meals this week, it’s just too much. You decide to be budget-conscious and go with the cheaper meat, feeling a little better that you’ve at least picked the “all-natural” option. Can you relate?
Since “organic” became a thing, it’s been controversial. People think it’s a Whole-Foods-created hoax to charge consumers more money. With so many different opinions out there, its hard to sift through it all and find the facts. What’s the truth here? Is organic meat healthier than natural? Are organic vegetables more nourishing than conventionally grown ones?
This word makes us think of rolling green hills, cows grazing, crops blowing in the wind and of a hard-working farmer harvesting his land. Consumer Reports found that 1 in 3 people thought “natural” = “organic.” Companies put this buzz word and pictures of idyllic farms on their labels to make you buy the product, and even pay more for it. While the term “organic” is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, “natural” isn’t; it has no clear definition. (Source: ABC News) So, although we may assume these foods would be minimally processed or not containing any hormones or artificial ingredients, it is in fact meaningless.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires all organic foods to meet strict standards on how those foods are grown, fed, handled and processed. Any food with the USDA Organic label must pass organic certification annual inspections. Unlike conventional foods, this ensures that the food has been grown using no toxic pesticides, no synthetic growth hormones and no petroleum-based fertilizers. And that it has been processed without artificial colors or flavors, without artificial preservatives and without GMOs. (Sources: Consumerist and Organic: It’s Worth It)
Additionally, there is another important label you might find on organic foods – “Non GMO Project Verified.” This certification is managed by a non-profit organization that believes you “should have access to clearly labeled non-GMO food and products.” It is a very strict verification process, ensuring that no more than 0.9% of the product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), with complete absence being the goal. “This is in alignment with laws in the European Union (where any product containing more than 0.9% GMO must be labeled);” Europe is way ahead of America on this and other dangerous food ingredients. (Source: Non GMO Project)
Is Organic Healthier?
Now that we understand the labels, the real question becomes: is organic really better for you than natural/conventional? There are studies that have found organic produce to be no more nutritional than its conventional counterpart. That makes sense – an apple is still an apple and will still have the same amount of calories. But, which version causes your body harm? Let’s look at what “organic” labels promise not to include to see what effects those in conventional food might have on our bodies:
Toxic Pesticides: Pesticides are intentionally toxic substances used to kill living things – aka poison. They are used consistently in conventional agriculture, even though many studies have shown to cause chronic health impacts like cancer, hormone disruption, neurodegenerative diseases, and reproductive issues. Children are especially at risk, even from minimal exposure, because they absorb more and don’t yet have fully developed brains or immune systems. A study by Harvard University and the University of Montreal found that exposure to pesticide residues on fruit and vegetables may double the risk of developing ADHD. (Source: Toxics Action Center) Oh, and one of the most commonly used pesticides, organophospate, was first developed as nerve gas in WWII. Hmm.
Beyond the harmful health effects, they also make our food less nourishing. One of the most popular herbicides (used to kill weeds) on the market is Monsanto’s product RoundUp – the main ingredient, glyphosate, steals nutrients from crops. And when pesticides are applied to crops, as much as 60% of the antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables are lost. Antioxidants are what help your body fight cancer-causing free-radicals.
As for how they effect our meat: “In a potato, the pesticide residue is .003 . in a piece of animal flesh, it is .281, nearly 100 more parts per million in every bite. It would take you over 90 days of eating conventionally grown potatoes to get the same amount of pesticide residue that one serving of chicken contains. Why? Because not only do the animals’ bodies collect and concentrate the poisons into their flesh, their feed is allowed to have 20% more pesticides used than that of crops grown for human use.” (Source: Natural News)
Watch this video to see how levels of chemicals changed in the children of a family who switched to all organic:
Synthetic Growth Hormones: Growth hormones are widely used to increase weight gain in animals and enhance milk production in dairy cattle, one of the most well-known being rGBH. These synthetic hormones mimic estrogen and, when they are passed on to us as we eat, can have serious side effects. After studies showed a 55-60% increase in breast cancer for women, rGBH was banned in many countries around the world; it’s still allowed in the US. Many researchers believe that steroid hormones cause children to undergo puberty prematurely, who are now entering much younger than just a generation ago. Just a small amount of these estrogenic hormones can have significant impact on children, both on their development and risk of obesity. (Sources: Genetic Roulette, Health.com)
Artificial Colors: You would be hard-pressed today to try to find an item in your pantry that doesn’t have artificial dye in the ingredients list (Yellow #5, Blue #1). Most artificial colors are made from coal tar. Gross. And more research has been coming out lately linking food dye to brain cancer and ADHD. Not good. (Source: Forbes) While research is still limited on this newer additive, many countries around the world have decided to ban these.
Artificial Preservatives: Preservatives are used to help prevent the growth of bacteria or fungus, to prevent oxidation causing discoloration or rancidity and to inhibit the natural ripening of produce. Sulfites and nitrates are common preservatives that cause allergic reactions in many people. (Source: Sustainable Table) More research is needed to determine the long-term side effects of these.
GMOs: Genetically Modified Organisms are created by putting the DNA from one species into another to get benefits from both. For our food and farming purposes, this means creating a seed that makes a plant produce its own pesticide or makes it pesticide resistant so that farmers can spray without damaging the crop. It sounds like a great idea, except that it’s all a science experiment in genetic alteration, resulting in mutations and unpredictable side effects, creating toxins, allergens, carcinogens and triggering inflammation. Some of the crops highest (90%+) in GMOs are canola, corn, soy and sugar beets, all of which are extremely common in processed foods. Unfortunately, infant formula is full of both GM soy and synthetic growth hormones (and high levels of aluminum too).
The best example of what this does to our bodies is this: GM corn is created to include BT toxin within the seed. When an insect eats the crop, it is designed to break open the stomach of the bug and kill it. It does the same to us, opening up tiny holes in our intestines leading to what’s called leaky gut. Then, when food passes through our intestines, it slips through these holes, entering our body… our body attacks those particles, seeing it as an invader; over time, we develop food allergies to those items. To watch an illustration of this or to learn more about the health effects of GMOs, read my other blog post here.
What About Antibiotic-Free, Pasture Raised & Grass Fed Animal Products?
None of these are promises made by an “organic” label, but fortunately many producers who have an organic certification will also believe in these practices too. While a big part of this is related to the humane treatment of the animals, there are also some health effects to consider. When animals are kept in close proximity to each other in cages all day, keeping the cages clean is impossible, leading to poor hygiene and the spreading of disease. Antibiotics must be used with these animals to prevent illness and ensure they survive to sell. When we eat the animals, these antibiotics are passed on to us, worsening the antibiotic-resistance epidemic. In fact, 80% of all antibiotics are used with animals rather than prescribed to humans.
As for pasture-raised and grass-fed meat, it is important to know the sources of the meat, eggs and dairy that you buy. I buy my eggs from a local farm (at the grocery store!) called Coyote Creek. The chickens are allowed to forage for food naturally on organic pastures; they are also fed soy-free feed. The grass-fed meat that I buy ensures that these cows aren’t being fattened up by GM corn and soy feed. They naturally graze the fields, ensuring I am getting the most nutrients from soil rich with minerals. “Research indicates that grass finished meat has superior ratios of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.” (Source: Eat Wild)
How to Shop:
Even if you’re now convinced that buying organic is worth trying to avoid all those detrimental health effects and ultimately healthier for your family, you may think I simply cannot afford it. Here are some tips on how to make it possible:
Compare & coupon – Where you shop can make it or break it. I’ve shopped around and discovered that usually a natural foods store can have the best pricing. The organic produce & meat at my local grocery store, HEB, is usually several dollars more (sometimes double!) that of a natural foods store. Farmers Markets can also be inexpensive since you are buying directly from the source. Read about how I’m able to buy all organic on a budget here.
Buy fresh – Organic processed and pre-prepared foods are expensive. Stick to the edge of the store as you shop and load up with fresh ingredients to cook at home.
Avoid the worst – There are some fruits and vegetables higher in pesticide residue. If you can only buy some items organic, at least avoid the conventional dirty dozen. And always thoroughly wash your produce when you get home!
Plan ahead – Meal plans, grocery lists and a strict budget can help you stay on track as you shop.
Or you can look at it this way: Is high-quality, organic food really that expensive by comparison? This awesome 11 yr old kid makes a pretty good argument… “It seems to me that we can either pay the farmer or we can pay the hospital.”
Do you think you’ll make the switch to buying organic?