There’s no denying that securing healthful food choices requires more time shopping. That’s partly because we have become trained to trust and not question the corporations that provide us with inexpensive food. As a budget conscious shopper, I have found the best prices for basic organic items like 1% milk, high omega-3 fatty acid eggs, and chicken are from wholesalers. I just have to keep my blinders on when I shop! Although I do shop periodically at large organic chains like Whole Foods and Down to Earth, particularly for the best selection of supplements and gluten-free products, I also buy many organic foods at my local grocery market chain when available.
The list below is compiled as a guide to economically organic shopping based on cumulative “smart-shopping” experience in three states. It contains guidance for which foods to buy in each location based on availability and price. Categories of food providers have listed alphabetically and are not in rank order.
Best places to buy organic food on a budget
Highly encouraged for the bulk of your organic food choices. Become a member to support the concept of community-owned food stores choosing foods they want. Co-ops are dedicated to the concept of long-term healthy sustainable food choices that support your local economy.
2. Conventional food stores
Many large chain stores are providing an increasing selection of organic foods, at sometimes very competitive prices. Keep asking them to stock organic and locally grown foods.
3. Farmer’s markets
Great for supporting local farmers; good prices in season. Ideally, make shopping at a farmers market a weekly event, before you secure other healthful foods.
4. Vegetarian outlets
Prices are good particularly if you can buy in bulk; the variety of quality supplements; selection is limited to vegetarian products, but most outlets frequently have tasty prepared and hot foods for quick, healthy meals on the go.
5. Whole Foods
Great variety, generally very good quality, but more expensive than other stores. Excellent choices for gluten-free and supplements. Some locally grown produce; more abundant when local organic production is nearby. Excellent selection of healthy take-out food.
6. Wholesale i.e. Cost-Co
Increasing variety of organic foods and seasonal produce if you choose carefully. When available organic meats, dairy, produce, juice and eggs all excellent prices.
Of course, when possible grow what you can like herbs, tomatoes, green onions. Ideally, most of the organic foods we buy will be grown and processed locally, but given our desire for variety and in today’s global economy, this is extremely challenging in most locations. To make it happen will require changes in what, how, when, and where we purchase our foods. Thus, in some cases there is a clear trade off: buying locally-grown products can promote your local economy the most: buying quality organic sometimes provide you personally the best health value, but may undermine local food production.