A common comment I have heard in working with hundreds of business owners across America this year is, “I would like to eat organic food but it is too expensive.” At first I tried to address these concerns intellectually by comparing value and values. Then in one city a business owner confronted me with this question: “How can I feed my family healthy organic food on my normal grocery budget?”
I turned to Chelsea O’Sullivan, Chapter co-President of Slow Foods at St. Mary’s College to see if there are best practices for eating organic food on a normal grocery budget. The great news is that there are.
My video interview interview with Chelsea on how to eat organic $5 meals is located below this summary
We all know that grocery store prices for organic fruit, vegetables, milk and meat are high. But the key price comparative should not be against similar non-organic food but against the price of processed foods. The average American annually eats:
- 29 pounds of french fries
- 23 pounds of pizza
- 24 pounds of ice cream
- 53 gallons of Soda
As consumers seeking to eat healthy and within our budgets we need to correctly compare not the cost between 2 pounds of conventionally grown and 2 pounds of organically grown. Instead we should compare the cost of buying organic produce to the cost of fast food meal. Suddenly the dollar stretches a lot further.
A second best practice is the timing of organic food purchases. Shopping at farmers markets can produce real cost savings as can timing your trips carefully. Food prices go down the closer to closing time for the farmers market vendor.
Finally, the least cost option is to participate in a community or urban garden. My own experience at Moraga Gardens is that this is an experience any American can enjoy. The benefits include:
- free organic food in exchange for about a half day of work per week
- a path to donate unused food to those in need
- participation in a financially sustaining enterprise, since the best of the garden’s produce is sold to upscale restaurants and grocery stores
- a great social experience with peoples holding strong values.
At St. Mary’s college the students have a small garden that provides food to students and produce to the school’s dining facilities.
In this video Chelsea O’Sullivan outlines how she eating organically on a college student’s budget!
Bill Roth is the founder of Earth 2017. His book, The Secret Green Sauce, profiles case studies on the best practices of businesses making money going green. He is implementing a coaching program with business owners on best practices for making money and a positive difference within 120 days called Green Builds Business that was created by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation with funding from Walmart.