Does Eating Organic Mean Going Broke?

January 8th, 2009


Photo credit: Lolly Knit

We all know that organic food/produce is healthier for the body and earth, but depending on where you live and you own personal financial situation, the cost can be overwhelming.  Of course a solution to this problem is to grow your own food.  To the avid gardener, this is a no brainier. But if you have a black thumb (like me) and/or very little space to garden, this could be a real challenge.

Low Impact Living has this really great article on how to start an organic garden. How to Tuesday: Organic Gardening 101 This post is pretty much an “Organic Gardening 101″ course.

If you are challenged with space, you can try growing  items in pots that can rest on a small porch, balcony, deck or patio. Garden Guides offers this very complete guide to planting vegetables in pots in Guide to Container Gardening.

Sprouting is a great way to “garden” even if you don’t have any space.  Sprouts are easy to grow indoors right on your kitchen counter  – or anywhere in your home.  You can grow them in jars, trays and even bags.  Sprouts doesn’t require soil, and they are highly nutritious. Raw Art of Living/Tried Tasted and Served blog has this really interesting article on broccoli sprouts in Broccoli Sprouts, Ulcers and Stomach Cancer to name a few benefits.  Sprouting Instructions can be found at Primal Seeds, Chet Day and this YouTube video on How to Grow Bean Sprouts just to name a few online resources.

Start a community garden if you don’t already have one in your neighborhood. The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) offers these great tools and instructions on starting a community garden in your area.

When you do buy…

Buy local and in season – Buying local, seasonal produce means less transit is necessary to haul in food = less cost to you consumer and lower impact on the earth.

Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) – CSA’s is a great way to support local, organic farmers, and save money.  Find out what it is and how to join one at at

I’ve had my own trials and errors while gardening, but with a little practice, creativity and patience, it can be done.

More gardening links (blogs):
Rooftop Kitchen presents: Planning Your Garden and Whats in Season

Sustainable Garden Blog

Does anyone have any gardening tips or money saving ideas when it comes to organic food/produce?

18 Responses to “Does Eating Organic Mean Going Broke?”

  1. Bellesouth says:

    What a coincidence! My own city is looking at building a community garden. I went to a meeting where they discussed it just today. it’s extremely rare that municipalities do this.

    While I, too, have a black thumb and am eagerly awaiting this new garden when it is ready so i can learn some tricks, I do have one tip for saving money on organic produce: Buy at the farmers market!!!! You can talk to the grower to see what they use on their products. And its’s SOOOOOOO much cheaper, fresher and better than at the store. And if you develop a good relationship with the gardener sometimes they’ll hook you up if they have an abundance of crops.

  2. Lance says:

    Hi Carla,
    We have a garden, and yet – it seems like we’ve been using it less and less each year. Maybe it’s time to revisit that, and get more stuff planted this spring. What we have found, for us – is that it works best to grow plants we’ve been successful with in the past – and ones that don’t take a lot of maintenance. That usually means tomatoes and green peppers. We “usually” do okay with these. This year, I’d also like to get back to visiting the local farmer’s markets in the area to get fresh produce.

  3. Thanks for the tips and links. I find it a constant challenge trying to eat organic and not blow my budget. I’d love to have a garden, but I’m space challenged and to be honest, I’m not sure I have the time to tend a garden properly anyway. Looks like it’s sprouting for me! And I need to check out some of the weekend farmer’s markets – I’m hoping they will be more reasonably priced than the organic supermarket near my house, which I think it almost exploitative in its pricing on some products. My preferred milk costs nearly $1 more there than at the regular supermarket!

    I really should pop into your blog more! Going to subscribe.

  4. LisaNewton says:

    CSA here I come. I’ve been thinking about joining one, so I did the research, and I’ll be picking up my first box in a couple of weeks.

    One nice thing about living in CA is that fresh produce is available all year round, plus, I love the idea of supporting local farmers.

    Thanks for the other great tips……………….:)

  5. grechen says:

    thanks for the website resources carla! SO and i would love to try and grow some things on our small balcony, but haven’t really known where to start. in the summer time, we get lots of organic tomatoes, peppers, and herbs from my mom’s garden, but otherwise, we try to buy organic as much as possible. i shop at whole foods, so it’s easy to find organic, but sometimes i choose to buy conventional produce if the organic is WAY more expensive. if the price is very close between organic and conventional, i will choose organic.

    and i definitely always buy in season & as local as possible. i have passed up clementines this year because the ones i’m seeing are from spain. i bought them last year from california, but i’ll wait until i can get strawberries from florida to start buying strawberries…it’s a totally different way of life when you buy in season fruits and vegetables, but it’s kind of nice – summer is so much more exciting when you can look forward to in season berries, etc.!! they taste better when they’re in season, and they’re cheaper…

  6. Thanks for the resources. I’m a gardener but I must admit I’ve never taken the time to invest in learning natural insect control. I’ll give these resources a look through. It won’t be long before seed catalog dream time starts.

  7. Cathy Quik says:

    I LOVEs me some organic veggies :) Mmmm, Mmm!

    I’m a big fan of farmers markets. Living in the city means it is tough to garden. I love the community garden idea, but I think I’m a little lazy about.

    So, my answer is the farmer’s market. A lot of the time I find produce that isn’t certified organic, but is grown pesticide free, and it is often cheaper because the farmer doesn’t have to go through the certification process.

  8. Carla says:

    @Bellesouth – I love the farmers markets too! The food is 10x better than at the conventional store with the exception of a few local, indie produce stores.

    @Lance – Tomatoes is great because they are somewhat easy to grow. I like to plan organic heirloom tomatoes in pots because they are about $4/lb when they are in season!

    @Frisky Librarian – Thank you for subbing! I find I have to shop around. Sometimes the farmers market is more, sometimes less, sometimes I can find a better deal at the produce store, etc. It also depends on whets in season. I find summer always cost more than the apples, oranges, pears, pomegranates, etc of winter.

    @LisaNewton – CSAs are great! Its also a good way to get other foods depending on the CSA. Have fun!

    @grechen – Whole Foods is kind of like the store I go to when the farmers markets or indie stores are closed. It also depends on where you live too. We have three farmers markets a week in the city of Berkeley alone (not counting the many in Oakland, etc). Not everyone is so lucky. I find with WF, I have to be very careful not to buy non-local produce which they seem to carry very often – even when it’s in season.

    @Tom – Have fun with it! There are a lot of great recourses on organic gardening online.

    @Cath – I love how the Berkeley Farmers Markets (and souring ones) always have either organic or pesticide free foods. My favorite time to go is when its cold and raining – you can get really good deals then!

  9. Sagan says:

    Gardening tips? Gah, no. I like gardening. Just not always so good at it.

    I’m a big fan of the “buy local and in season” route, though:) And am a MASTER at finding the good quality healthy stuff for cheap hehe.

  10. I’m more of a tree lover. I can barely tell one from the other but I like to look at them…. :)

  11. wilson says:

    Well, if you don’t want to buy the organic foods from the stores, then you can always plant it yourself. By this way, it even more natural and organic!

  12. Jannie says:

    I have grown flowers successfully but think it is time to grow veggies too and this post is certainly an inspiring way to think aobut doing it.


  13. Very nice post. Anything that is pro-organic, I’m a fan of. :)

    I wish I had space for an organic garden. I’ve done okay with simply buying my organic food, though. I find that with careful planning and discipline, I’m able to eat organic foods every day for a pretty reasonable price.

    Of course, I’m also a vegetarian, so I’m sure that cuts my costs considerably…

    Thanks for a great post!

  14. Organic food is a lot more expensive in the grocery store, which is understandable. My wife and I want to start a garden, but we haven’t made the leap yet. I’ll be keeping an eye out for any good tips.

    Hopefully my wife and I will build and plant a garden bed this spring.

  15. In a class I took on agriculture, I came to realize the importance of growing your own organic foods…at least up here in Canada. I am not sure on the laws and regulations in the US, but up here in the North, purchasing “organic” does not necessarily mean you are buying organic foods, it just means you are purchasing foods which follows a certain guideline and regulations when they are spraying certain allowable “organic” pesticides and such. If you live in Canada, for the most part, you are not really getting organic foods unless you are growing it yourself.

  16. [...] ? Blog Archive ? Today’s garden picturesOrganic gardening` | Green + Chic [...]

  17. Erika says:

    I’m starting a vegetable garden this Spring. I just have a small backyard though, so I won’t be planting corn! Thanks for the great tips

  18. Suzette says:

    This is a fabulous and very useful blog post. The very best way to get children to eat plenty of veg is to get them growing it, even if it’s in pots or in a windowbox, you’d be surprised what can be grown that way.

RSS feed for comments on this post. And trackBack URL.

Leave a Reply