3 Ways to Eat Organic Food on a Budget

We’ve all heard about the benefits of organic fruits and vegetables. The arguments make sense. Organic means less chemicals and pesticides in our food and on our planet. Sounds great, right? Until you get to the grocery store checkout lane and nearly have a heart attack from the sticker shock of the price. But the cost shouldn’t stop you from putting the best produce in your body. Check out my favorite tips for eating organic without breaking the bank.

The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

A lot of people assume that if you go organic, it’s all-or-nothing. Not true! Some fruits and veggies are more heavily sprayed than others. Some produce is even sprayed so little, that the difference between the conventionally grown and the organic version is only the price.

Check out the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists from Environmental Working Group (EWG). Apples, celery, and strawberries top the list of produce you should buy organic. Onions, sweet corn, and pineapple are varieties that have barely any pesticides, even in their conventional versions. The EWG even has a handy printable guide that you can slip in your pocket and refer to in the produce section.

Dirty Dozen

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines – Imported
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Cherry Tomatoes
  11. Snap Peas – Imported
  12. Potatoes


Clean Fifteen

  1. Onions
  2. Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Avocado
  5. Asparagus
  6. Sweet peas
  7. Mangoes
  8. Eggplant
  9. Cantaloupe
  10. Kiwi
  11. Cabbage
  12. Watermelon
  13. Sweet potatoes
  14. Grapefruit
  15. Mushrooms

Be a locavore


Becoming a certified organic farm is an expensive and time-consuming process that a lot of small farmers just can’t afford, and those that do, normally pass the cost onto the consumer. So the next time you’re at the farmer’s market, chat with the farmers and ask about their use of pesticides. Chances are, even if they aren’t certified organic, they’re chemical-free, and their prices may be dramatically less compared to their certified counterparts.


Grow your own


It can be easy to assume that you need acres of land to have a well-producing garden, but I can tell you from experience, this isn’t true. My husband and I grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, butternut squash, watermelon, and zucchini – all on our apartment patio. Even a small window herb garden can save you some serious cash. We’ve stuck cherry tomato plants in hanging baskets and basil plants by our living room window. You’re paying for the space, so you might as well use it to your checkbook’s advantage by growing your own food!

Does the cost of organic food discourage you from buying it?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!