Despite the heightened awareness of the dangers of pesticides, organically grown foods still account for less than 4% of all foods purchased in the US today due to the perceived fear that it is too costly.  While store-bought organics seldom compete with conventional produce prices, it is vital that we not neglect one of our most priceless investments—our long-term health. If you are willing to add to your knowledge and intentionality by utilizing the plethora of valuable resources today, it is absolutely possible to gain the rewards of clean eating without financial strain.

  • Purchase Organically Grown Versions of the Dirty Dozen-since most of us cannot afford to eat 100% organic, prioritize your budget towards purchasing organically grown versions of the most contaminated produce. Read more here.

  • Purchase Local and Seasonal-not only will purchasing or stocking up on locally grown, seasonal produce save you money but you will also enjoy foods which are far superior in nutrients and flavor. A current example?  Blackberries grow like weeds here in the Great Northwest and are a delightful resource to freeze and enjoy throughout the year. Check out nearby featured farm-fresh resources here.

  • Invest in a Deep Freezer-like the example above with the treasured Great Northwest abundance of blackberries, investing in a deep freezer is one of the best ways to stock up on fresh produce at its peak of season while being lowest in cost. The initial cost of this purchase may seem expensive at first but the dollars saved through stocking up on wholesale or bulk items pays off quickly.

  • Look Beyond the USDA Label-while the USDA Certified Organic sticker is a reassuring label to guarantee which foods are uncontaminated by pesticides, many farmers raise organically grown foods with the same high standards but without the sticker because of the enormous expense of the certification.  (a perfect lead to my next tip)
  • Befriend a Farmer-this is my favorite way to purchase affordable organics from June-November. I have established a friendship with a local farmer who has generously agreed to deliver farm-fresh organics right onsite to my workplace. Each week, farmer Tom updates me with what is available within season from his land and I collect the payments and orders from about 30 different employees involved. Each Wednesday, the employees and I receive the most beautiful, fresh, incredibly priced organics fresh from his farm. Our employees and farmer Tom are thrilled to have this mutually beneficial connection. Look up local SW WA farms or CSA’s here to connect with a farmer yourself!

  • Participate in a CSA-community supported agriculture groups are a great way to purchase a weekly share, or produce box of crops, directly from farmers throughout the growing season. Local Harvest website is a resource for locating a local CSA near you.

  • Join a Coop-coops, like Azure Standard, provide a terrific resource for organics as well as a wide variety of other delectable goodies at various drop-points throughout the area for a wholesale price. Find a drop-off point or become one yourself here.
  • Farmer’s Markets-locate locally featured SW Washington farmer’s markets here as well as other nation-wide locations here.

  • Your Own Backyard-love organics, outdoor beauty, and saving both gas money and time that would otherwise be spent walking grocery aisles? Consider growing your own backyard eats this year!  A garden does not need to be extravagant, full-fledged, or time and space consuming. Simply sticking a couple kale plants in a pot on the porch will greatly benefit you.

  • Community Garden-community gardens are one of the most fun, rewarding, relationship centered avenues to eating healthier! One of my favorite project launches this year was a community garden for our employees at work.  Over 30 of came together over 12 different 4×20 boxes and grew fabulous eats with little to no previous gardening experience. This website is my favorite online step-by-step resource for launching your own community garden.

Read part one on the dirty dozenand part two on the clean fifteenwith Leanne Ernster.
Leanne Ernster, 2012.