Organic on a Budget?

Eating Organic on a Budget is one of the great workshops scheduled for Saturday’s Good Food Festival.

I eat clean and most of the time make great food choices, but when it comes to organic, I need help! Most of the time I feel that it is simply impossible to eat organic on a tight budget. However Laura Bruzas, the founder of Healthy Dining  Chicago, disagrees with me.

Laura, is it even possible to put words “organic” and “budget” in the same sentence?
Absolutely! However, there are certain things you have to do to make it happen:

  • Portion control is a big helper
  • Consume everything you bring home by buying just what you will eat and cook like a chef (zero waste).
  • Learn to label and store your foods properly to avoid additional food waste.
  • Buy frequently used items in quantity when on sale
I want to start eating organic. What are your suggestions for eating organic without going broke?
Few people can afford to eat 100% organic foods all the time. The best we can do is to refer to well-respected sources of information to know which foods are the most heavily contaminated and try to stay clear of these as often as possible.

What are the foods I absolutely need to eat organic?
Get familiar with a dirty dozen by EWG.  These are the foods that you have to eat organic, because of the higher level of pesticides and harmful chemicals

I am still not sure if I will be able to keep my organic spendings under control. Any tips?

  • Eliminate the “junk/wasted calories/can-do-without” items, i.e. bottled water, packaged and processed foods, etc.
  • Learn to cook a dozen fast-n-easy, healthy dishes – eating out is expensive!
  • Buy just what you need from the bulk department whenever possible – eliminates waste!
  • Don’t forget about the clean 15 – this food doesn’t have to be organic

And if you want to know more, check out this great book – American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What We Can Do About It)

Is the Whole Foods Store my only option for good quality food?
You actually have several alternatives

  • Dill Pickle Co-op
  • Farmers’ Markets (especially at the end of day as many farmers would prefer to go home on a “lighter” note)
  • Buying clubs (groups buying directly from wholesaler at discount prices)

Also check out Healthy Dining Chicago’s 50 Ways to Eat Well for Less for more ideas. Good Food Festival is hosting Eating Organic workshop on Saturday, March 17 – be sure to check it out.

Laura Bruzas is a green kitchen economist and author of 50 Ways to Eat Well for Less, Laura Bruzas, founded Healthy Dining Chicago, an all-volunteer community education and outreach effort that promotes food choices that foster personal wellness, conservation and animal compassion in 2003. 


Thank You  Good Food Festival for making this interview possible.