July 22, 2010

8 Tips: how Real People on Real Budgets Can Afford Real Food. ~ Robyn O’Brien

The Expenses of Eating

In a world in which we are constantly concerned about the health of our families, the stability of our jobs, paying the mortgage, and life’s responsibilities…the simple act of trying to eat healthy often becomes a challenge. Even for the savviest of eaters.

Not to mention that if your family is anything like mine, then you’ve most likely got some picky eaters, limited time and a limited budget with which to pull all of this off in a world of soaring food prices.

So here are a few tips for those Elephant Journal readers who want to buy organic food but don’t want to pay the high price:

> Go Orgo-Generic: Major grocery store chains like Safeway and Kroger, and big box food retailers like Costco and even Wal-Mart, now carry their own organic foods.  And all foods labeled “USDA organic” are created equal, no matter where you find them. No need to upscale your grocery store when Wal-Mart gets it done.

> Buy Frozen: Frozen foods (like strawberries and fish) are cheaper than those that are delivered fresh. So if the prices on fresh produce are eye-popping, cruise on over to the frozen food aisle for a discount.

> Eat with the Season: Retrain your taste buds to think like your grandmother did.  She didn’t eat strawberries in the middle of winter.  Locally grown foods are usually cheaper than those flown in from another hemisphere so if you eat with the season, you’ll be eating more affordably.

> Skip the Box, Embrace the Bulk: Food that comes in boxes costs more because of the packaging costs associated with designing those pretty pictures!  When you buy in bulk, you’re not paying for all of the packaging, you’re paying for the food which is what you want anyway! So slide on over to that bulk food aisle in Safeway and look for noodles, cereals, rice and beans in your local grocery store.

> Support the US economy and Buy Local: You can save money by becoming a member of a local farm (just like you became a member at Safeway or Costco!).  How do you find a local farm, you ask?  Well, thankfully, the USDA now has a list of online sites to help you find the closest farm near you, so click here to log onto the USDA site.

> Comparison Shop: You wouldn’t buy a car without comparison shopping, so before you even head out the door, you can compare the prices of organic foods at different retailers from the safety of your own computer at with the Eat Well Guide.

> My Plate: This page contains everything from technical understanding of My Plate, a historical comparison of past USDA recommended programs including the Food Pyramid, commentary and analysis of the programs, and we believe is the best starting point on the internet for research in this area.

> Grow One Thing: If you’re as busy as me, there’s not a chance in creation you’re going to be able to feed your family off of your home-grown harvest—but you may very well find that growing a tomato plant is not only easy, but incredibly inspiring. It’s not as intimidating as it seems. So pick one thing to grow—you can do it (we all grew lima beans in cups as kids, right?).

> Find a Friend: It is way more fun when you share this adventure with someone else. Be sure to find a friend, share this link and get back to us with your success stories (or any ideas we may have missed!).

Good luck!

Robyn O’Brien is the founder and director of the Allergy Kids Foundation, an organization whose mission is to restore the health of American children, especially the 1 in 3 American children with allergies, autism, ADHD and asthma, by protecting them from toxins now found in the food supply and environment.  Robyn also serves on the board of the Environmental Working Group, as an advisor to Hot Moms Club, and works as a contributing editor to SHAPE magazine, Martha Stewart’s Whole Living, the Huffington Post and other media.  She has been named by SHAPE Magazine as one of 2009’s “Women To Shape the World”, along with Michelle Obama, and has been called “food’s Erin Brockovich” by the New York Times.  Robyn was recently named by Forbes magazine as one of “20 Inspiring Women to Follow on Twitter” and by the Discovery Channel as one of 15 Visionaries. She earned a Fulbright Fellowship, an MBA on a full scholarship and served as an equity analyst before founding the Allergy Kids Foundation.  She was raised in Texas and now lives in Colorado with her husband and four children.

Her first book, published by Random House (May 2009) The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It highlights the role that chemicals in our food supply are having on our health.

Her work has been recognized by Ted Turner, Bonnie Raitt, Dr. Oz, Erin Brockovich, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and others as seen here.

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