It takes a bit of effort, but you can do it!

Eat Organic on a Budget

by Pat Veretto

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We probably all know that organic food is better for us, but being frugal, it's hard to let go of the money it takes to buy it. There are other ways to get healthy and organic food than paying full price at the grocery store, though.

One way is to look for coupons online. Coupons can usually be found for organic milk and other dairy products, and sometimes you will find a coupon for fresh produce at a particular store. Use a search engine to look for coupons for specific brand names and you'll surely find some.

Another way to save on any food is to buy meat and produce as close to the source as you can, but find a farmer or producer who grows things organically by looking on Local Harvest and then go and talk to them. Organic eggs, meat, fresh vegetables and fruits can often be found this way that will cost less than what you will find in the grocery store.

Grow your own as much as you can. If you live in an apartment, you can still grow food organically by using grow lights or simply growing sprouts from organic seeds. Sprouts are superfoods and a little goes a long way. Although a pound of sprouting seed may seem expensive, it will produce far more than a pound of healthy, tasty food.

If you have room for a garden, you can grow a lot of your own food, of course. You might have a hard time finding plants ready to put into your garden, but if you need to, look for a plant nursery that advertises organic plants and avoid places like Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowe's that all sell the same "conventional" (nonorganic) plants.

Unless you know someone who will share organic seed, you will have to buy it the first time, but if you buy heirloom or open pollinated produce, you can save the seed from your harvest and never have to buy it again.

Different types of vegetables take different methods of seed saving, so do some research before you try. A good book like Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth can be invaluable and save you the price many times over.

There are seeds that are food that you can buy from an organic grocer or farmer to eat and then grow some of your own. Dry beans of various kinds, peas, and whole grains (not polished or processed in any way) will grow in your garden. Garlic tends to diminish unless it's of good stock, but you can try planting the grocery store variety.

If you want to grow potatoes, you can try the grocery store variety as long as they're organic. Otherwise, they may not grow because they might have been irradiated to stop sprouting. Also, nonorganic potatoes may carry fungi, which can infect your garden soil. Choose organic potatoes that are already trying to grow for the best results.

You can also regrow plants from much of the produce you buy. Celery, onions, lettuce and more will often grow again from the roots. When you buy, look for produce that still has some root left and don't cut all the way to the root when you use it. For celery, leave an inch or so, and for onions, leave a half inch. You will soon know what to do if you try a few times. Put the root in a little water until it starts to grow and then carefully plant it and there you have another of whatever you started with.

You can trade your own skills and products for organic food more easily than you can for "conventional" food because organic farmers are generally a little more "alternative" and willing to listen to your proposal. If you can provide a service or goods they can use, it's worth a try.

It's a good thing to eat organic! It might take a little work, but you can do it.

Pat Veretto is a work at home grandmother who has homesteaded, homeschooled and happily lived frugally most of her life. She currently freelances.

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