Organic food can cost 50% to 100% more than similar non-organic items. Here’s how to eat organic at a reasonable price…

Shop around. Prices vary from store to store and from week to week. Don’t assume that fancy stores that carry a lot of organic foods, such as the national chain Whole Foods, always will be more expensive than traditional supermarkets. They often have weekly specials that are as cheap as or cheaper than mainstream supermarkets.

Smaller specialty markets, such as the chains Trader Joe’s ( and Sprouts Farmers Markets (, also have reasonable prices on organic foods.

Helpful: Organic meat often can be purchased at supermarkets or specialty markets for half its usual price or less when it is approaching its sell-by date. You then can freeze it until needed. (If you see that the meat is near or at its sell-by date and it’s not yet marked down, ask the manager whether you can get it for less.)

In general, prices tend to be lowest in regions where multiple stores sell organic foods. If you live in a town that has no such competition, it could be worth driving to a larger community that does.

Try a food co-op. Co-ops are formal or informal nonprofit organizations that purchase food at wholesale prices and then make it available to members at low cost. Many specialize in organic foods. Type “Food co-op” and the name of your city or state into Google to find co-ops in your area, or try the Coop Directory Service Web site (

Visit local organic farms. Many organic farmers will sell directly to the public, which lowers prices by cutting out the middleman. Sometimes this is done by subscription, with consumers receiving a bag of organic fruits and/or vegetables each week for a very reasonable flat fee. Occasionally organic farms will lower prices even more for customers willing to do a little farmwork.

Buy a cow or pig. If you live in a rural region, you could purchase an organically raised cow or pig from a local rancher or farmer. The rancher or farmer may butcher it for you or you can have it butchered by students in the butchery program of an area tech school. The total cost could be around half what you would pay for the same amount of organic meat in a store. If you buy a whole cow, it would be helpful to split the purchase with one or two other families.

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