Organic Food

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This is a myth: The quest for cheap organic food is a lost cause. This is a fact: There are many ways to save when buying organic food. Here are six tips.

Prioritize your spending.

Consult the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen Plus" list of 14 fruits and vegetables containing the highest levels of pesticide residues before running to the organic grocery aisle. Limit your organic purchases to apples, celery, sweet bell peppers, peaches, strawberries, imported nectarines, grapes, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, domestic blueberries, potatoes, green beans, and kale/collard greens.

Buy the store brand, shop at warehouse clubs.

Yes, even grocers (including Safeway, Kroger, and Target) sell their own line of relatively cheap organic food. If you go to a warehouse club, such as Costco, you can purchase organic products in bulk. Buying the house brand rather than the name brand also nets big savings.

Join a local food co-op.

Local food co-ops offer cheap organic food, often at close to wholesale prices. How do you get involved? Search "organic wholesalers" or check out Bountiful Baskets to see if there's a co-op program nearby. As a member you might be required to put in some hours at the store or volunteer at the distribution site. If there are none in your area, consider starting a new Bountiful Baskets site or your own co-op.

Get produce from a community supported agriculture (CSA) farm.

This option is often a sure route to cheap organic food as long as the farm is certified organic. Put money down at the beginning of the season and wait for a fresh box of produce to arrive every week or so during the harvest season. (You may have to travel to a pick-up site to collect your share.) For a list of nearby CSA farms, go to Local Harvest.

Continue to clip (or print) coupons.

Find cheap organic food by browsing store coupons as you normally would and by "liking" your favorite natural brands on Facebook or following them on Twitter. Websites such as Health eSavers and Organic Deals, specialize in cheap organic food bargains. FYI: Most manufacturer coupons for conventional foodstuffs also work for the organic lines.

Stick with seasonal items.

Shipping costs are minimal on in-season, local produce, so fill your shopping basket with these foods. Visit the NRDC site to learn what's fresh in your state at any given time of year. During the off-season go with frozen organics to reduce waste and spoilage and still eat nutritiously.

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