If you have been watching the news recently, you have probably heard about “pink slime” that is being added to approximately 70% of the beef available for public consumption. Pink slime, which is the connective tissue of the cow processed and treated with ammonia to make it safer for consumption, is added to ground beef as a filler. Ground beef mixed with pink slime is found in many grocery stores, school cafeterias and restaurants. Until recently, McDonald’s, Burger King and Taco Bell all used ground beef mixed with pink slime.
If you are concerned about the quality of the food you buy, you may want to consider buying organic. However, while many people want to feed their family high quality foods, they hear the word organic and think those products are not compatible with a family on a budget. However, there are several strategies you can use to make buying organic more affordable.
Ways to Make Organic Produce Affordable
- Shop at regular grocery stores. There is no need to go to a specialty or designated organic store. More and more supermarkets are carrying organic products, often for less than or at the equivalent price of non-organic products if you buy them on sale.
- Grow your own garden. During the summer months, enlist the family to help you grow a family garden. You will be able to grow enough produce to drastically reduce your produce budget. If you don’t mind freezing vegetables, you can grow produce like sweet corn, red and green bell peppers, and zucchini to freeze for future use. We add peppers that we have frozen to soups during the winter and can’t taste a difference from using fresh.
- Enroll in a CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it allows you the opportunity to pay a farmer in advance for the produce he will grow during the summer. In return, usually beginning in June and ending sometime in October, you will receive a fresh delivery of produce from the farm once a week. Often the produce is organic, and you can buy it for much less than you would at the grocery store. Best of all, the produce is usually grown within a two hour drive from your home.
- Consider big box stores. Costco has quite a large selection of organic produce at reasonable prices. I can buy a pound of fresh, organic spinach for $3.99. I also buy organic rice milk there, for about half the price I can buy it in a regular grocery store.
Ways To Make Organic Meat Affordable
If you would like to buy organic meat, there is no way around it, you will have to pay more. However, organic meat usually comes from animals that were free to roam the farm and fed a natural diet rather than being confined to a tiny space and eating an unnatural diet consisting mostly of grains.
- Lower your meat consumption. If you have trouble affording organic meat, first reduce the number of meat-based meals you consume. If you buy less meat, you will be able to afford to buy more expensive, organic meat. Try a few meals that showcase vegetables or beans every week.
- Buy straight from the farmer. Consider contacting a local farmer to inquire about buying a side of beef or chickens from the farm. We buy a ¼ side of beef from my cousin’s farm every year for approximately $600. That supplies our family of 5 with enough meat for about 15 months.
- Try big box stores. Again, Costco offers reasonably priced organic ground beef at a little less than $5 a pound. Yes, it is more expensive, but I would gladly pay that rather than worry about pink slime in my meat.
- Change your thought process. You may take your family out to eat and not think much about spending $40 to $50 for the meal. Yet, if you buy 4 lbs. of organic ground beef for $17.99, you may feel the pain of your purchase. Consider instead giving up the meal out to instead be able to afford to feed your family quality meat with no fillers.
If you have been concerned by recent news stories about pink slime and want to go organic, know that with some effort and a few behavioral changes, you should be able to afford it. Even if you can’t switch to an entirely organic diet, you may want to try to at least buy some organic meat (since it is highest on the food chain) and the dirty dozen vegetables that experts recommend you don’t buy conventionally produced.
What is your favorite strategy to save when buying organic?