Question of the Day – Budgeting

November 17, 2006

Do you buy organic products? If so, do you buy EVERYTHING organic or do you limit it to just a few key products?

I like the idea of organic but it is SO expensive to buy organic. I mean $6.00 for ONE gallon of milk? We buy 4 gallons per week. That’s…

$24 per week
$104 per month
$1,248 per year

for milk!

13 responses to Question of the Day – Budgeting

  1. Basically, it boils down to priorities as does all budgeting. Personally, my wife and I will make sacrifices elsewhere so that we can afford an organic diet as well as alternative forms of medicine and healthcare for our family. You can look into organic co-ops as well as community supported agriculture as a means of getting things cheaper (http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/csa/csa.shtml).

    I am also convinced that if more people buy organic and natural health alternatives they will become more affordable over time.

  2. I generally see little reason to buy a lot of products organic. It usually ends up being if we like something that happens to be organic, we buy it, or if we want something but they only have the organic kind we buy it. We buy lettuce a lot and started to only buy organic because the quality ended up being better and we would lose less to rotting.

  3. Organic is definitely not worth it for us, paying double for something that may not even have that much of a benefit doesn’t rank up there on the priorities. Instead, we just grow a garden and harvest most of our vegetables ourselves. Obviously it doesn’t work for things like organic milk, but for vegetables it is a very cost-effective solution.

  4. We try to buy as much organic food as possible. To keep within budget we have a CSA ($600/yr) which supplies all our veggies needs throughout the growing season and into fall/winter (freezing/canning). And we eat ALOT of veggies. You can also check out farmer’s markets, as they tend to be cheaper than grocery stores and many of them offer dairy products.

    If money is tight, I recommend buying milk, veggies/produce that you eat the skin, and meat in organic varieties. It is worth it to buy organic milk, as the US standards for milk are among the most lax in the world. For example, the USDA limit for pus (from infected udders due to rBGH) is twice the European limit. Which is disgusting.

    And organic really isn’t more expensive, it just that you pay for the entire cost at the grocery store, as opposed to conventional food where you pay a (large) portion of the cost in your taxes.

  5. We usually buy hormone-free (but not certified organic) milk from a local farmers market. It’s somewhere in-between the cost of regular milk and ‘real’ organic.

    We share a garden with friends and grow most of our own veggies for much of the year, freezing and canning for the winter. It’s nice to have friends with orchards and space for big gardens. We grow lettuce, herbs, spices, etc on our back porch.

    We buy beef from friends who grow a cow or two organically on their small farms. It costs about the same as lean supermarket hamburger but tastes MUCH better – and includes a few steaks and roasts as well. We’ve done the same for pork occasionally too.

    At the supermarket, we usually buy organic salad and will pay a little more for other organic items, but won’t usually spend double for the organic label.

    Overall, we eat moderately gourmet (thanks to my very creative wife) and stick to under $250/mo in groceries for the two of us. I’m sure we could eat a little cheaper, but that seems to work for us as a reasonable balance between good food, healthy eating, and budget.

  6. I’m not too picky when it comes to organic versus non-organic. I do agree that organic foods taste a bit better but when it comes down to it; it’s simply not worth the premium on price.

    So I end up buying organic when there isn’t any other options (for example the onyl peppers in the store are organic and I need one for dinner)

  7. I buy almost all organic. I don’t sweat it if I can get only certain conventional veggies in winter. After a few months of experimentation, I feel that my vegetarian diet is now pretty well planned and balanced, and I get it under $40 a week, single person. To help you plan, simply weigh and calculate everything as you put it in your cart.

    An example of my last week’s groceries (organic unless stated otherwise):

    For salads:
    1 Green leaf lettuce head
    1 Corn cob (conventional)
    2 Green bell peppers (other colors are 3 times the cost)
    2 Tomatoes
    4 Crimini mushrooms (conventional)

    For saute, soup, pilaves etc:
    2 Large onions (conventional)

    Fruit for breakfast, snacks:
    7 Bananas in a bunch

    Protein food:
    1 Boca burger package (4 servings)
    1 Veggie dogs package (8 servings)
    6 Balance bars

    Dry goods:
    14oz Yellow split peas
    1 lb Pasta (conventional)
    1 Multigrain sliced bread
    5 Pita bread bag (conventional)

    All of this came to under $40 at the neighborhood organic food store. What varies from week to week is the amount of dry goods I need, and the savings there go toward food supplements, coffee, milk, eggs, extra fruits or saute veggies or the rare snack.

  8. Ah, a topic close to my heart. I do pay extra for certain organic products – I’d rather keep my toddler’s body “clean” for as long as possible, so I buy organic whole milk for him, as well as other organic products. I love Trader Joes’s for the RBST-free option on most dairy products, which is cheaper than organic. And I try to buy organic versions of produce that retain the most pesticides (e.g., apples) and will buy conventional versions of the ones that don’t (e.g., bananas). I think it’s a good compromise for our budget, since even though research says it doesn’t hurt, my instinct tells me it can’t be GOOD to take in pesticides, hormones, etc.

  9. Here are a couple of good articles on the topic:

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/organic-products-206/overview/index.htm

    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/food/organic-products-206/when-buying-organic-pays-and-doesnt/index.htm

    I’m not convinced there is much benefit there and think it’s more of a marketing gimmick than anything so I won’t spend the extra money, but with people starving all over the world it’s nice that our country is so rich that we can contemplate these things.

  10. We buy all organic. Except table salt, since it’s not based on carbon compounds. But since everything else that we eat is carbon-based animal or vegetable products, it’s organic. For that matter, so is our gasoline and natural gas.

    (Sorry: this is my standard rant about eco-marketers annexing a perfectly useful word from chemistry and mystifying it, especially since Organic Chemistry was by far my hardest class in college…)

  11. There are some things you should consider buying if it’s organic and some things you shouldn’t. I know when i have kids I want to give them organic so I guess I will just have to re-budget when that time comes. Fortunately, that wont be for a long, long, long time.
    I’m guilty of buying organic milk, carrots, crackers, cookies, chips, juices, fruits, and meat (other than fish).

  12. We buy a couple of food items that are advertized as “organic” – milk and beef, but that isn’t the reason we get them – rather for the taste and lower cost respectively. All the food from our garden is pesticide free, but probably wouldn’t qualify as “organic” using the industry measure. Other than that, I don’t generally buy organic food, and wouldn’t pay additional.

    I like Foobarista’s answer, since I took a year of organic chemistry as well.

  13. Does anyone have a complete list of protein foods ?`~~