Spending a Fortune on Fruit and Veggies

After watching Food, Inc roughly ten days ago I asked readers for their input on purchasing organic products. I’m happy to report that the comments on that post convinced me to pursue a more organic lifestyle. I discussed the goal with my husband and began my quest this week.

Unfortunately, the chain grocery store closest to my home offers a very small selection of organic products, so I went to Mom’s Organic Market in search of greater variety. I walked around the store for about twenty minutes, focusing primarily on the selection and prices of produce, nuts, bread, cheese and dairy products.

Overall my quest for a greener diet has reinvigorated my desire to eat more fruits and vegetables. Awhile ago a friend introduced me to The Color Code: A Revolutionary Eating Plan for Optimum Health, which opened my eyes to the health benefits of a plant based diet. The book creates a color chart for good eating. It groups produce according to it’s color including red, yellow-orange, green and blue-purple and discusses the health benefits of each group.

After reading the book I immediately incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet. This was an easy task during the summer when nearly every type of fruit is in season, but as the leaves turned and the snow fell I nearly halted my produce intake. As I searched through the store I thought long and hard about including a variety of fruits and veggies back into my diet.

While I was pleased with the the amount and variety of organic and all-natural products at MOM’s I was also shocked by the prices. For example, four, mid-sized tangerines cost $6.16. Despite my new goals I had no intention of paying $6.16 for four tangerines.

I knew that I would pay more for organic and all-natural products and the cash register receipt was certainly confirmation of that fact. I spent more in produce in one trip to the store then I would during a whole month at my typical grocery store. For the time being I do plan to proceed with my goals, but as the weather warms up I will certainly seek out farmer’s markets and cheaper alternatives for organic products.

10 thoughts on “Spending a Fortune on Fruit and Veggies”

  1. Have you thought about a CSA? It stands for community supported agriculture. At the begining of the season you pay for the whole season and then every week through the season you get fresh produce from local farms.

    It's not cheaper than weekly sales at the store, but local + usually organic= greener.

  2. I'll second a CSA – it should be cheaper than the prices you're describing. We've had a great experience with ours – the farm is about 30min away. It also encourages you to eat with the seasons and to try new veggies every week.

    You could also try growing a few things once it warms up.

    Finally Whole Foods may have okay prices when you're only looking at organic.

  3. Look into Agriculture Extension Classes and Community Ed Classes about how to grow your own. In these cold dormant months you can do lots and lots of learning about your soil, what can.not be planted in containers. Growing some of your own in spring and summer will help alot with the budget. Also look into sprouting. Super-de-duper healthy and cost effective. Finally, its always a stretch but get to know your grocers, in person. Are you okay with eating stuff in a hurry or fixing produce that needs to have some stuff scraped off? Lots of places chuck a tremendous amt of fresh (even organic) veggies and fruit if bruised or getting ready to be expired. I know success stories of behind closed doors price wrangling if you are able to take the damaged and not.so.fresh veggies and fruits at a much reduced price. They don't have to 'mark it out' and you still get veg at great savings. Note, this does not happen over nite and often does not happen the first couple times you ask. Start simple, like with Bananas. Ask what happens to them. See if there is a deal! Then later, ask for grocery mgr by name and have a conversation about spinach, bok choy and other greens. This is about relationship building. They don't want the whole world coming in grovelling and begging for cheap deals, know what I mean? If it is a small enough store, if you have skills they need, you could barter talent for a reduced price on those kinds of veggies/fruits. You don't know until you try! Happy Green Eating!

  4. Oh I almost forgot. Some of the bruised fruit deals I get are great in two forms.
    1. Smoothies.
    2. Dehydrator. When I don't have time or space for some of the fruit I bring home I make a date with the dehydrator. I can't let food go to waste! And its great as a tv or driving snack or in trail mix.

    And instead of thinking 'gee these fruits veg used to be so cheap' think of what you would pay for a luxury meal, or really nice cut of steak. When you do the mental flip and see your organics as LUXURY items, its astounding how you treat yourself better as a result. Compare $ per pound. Bring out the nice dishes and eco friendly cloth napkins! You're Worth It!! Treat your meals like you are a king and queen instead of a peasant accepting of just the cheap stuff. Its a paradigm shift, but you can't go wrong with organics.

  5. I've also been trying to eat more healthy since watching Food Inc. and reading In Defense of Food (highly recommend, at least in audio book format)

    I find that fresh food is cheaper when it's local, so clemintines that come from Spain are more expensive than cabbage that was grown the town over. This I found was true even in the summer. So – try to find local foods. I know it's winter and that might be hard, but there are quite a few things in season now.

    And I just signed up for a CSA for next summer, like the other comments suggest, you might want to look into that. I am expecting to get way too much food and having to preserve it for next winter.

  6. Those 'cheaper' fruits and veg have a much much higher actual cost when you figure in soil depletion, heavy damaging pesticide use, toxins leeching chemicals into the drinking water supply, migrant worker conditions and more. Those actual costs are never listed on the veggie code sticker, if you know what I mean.

  7. Thank you for all the wonderful comments.

    @sara, anon & les – I'm concerned that I won't eat all of the produce that comes from a CSA. Do you find food going to waste? My husband is not a big fruit and veggie eater so I'm worried that it'll cost less to buy, but that I'll find most of it going to waste. What has your experience been?

    @BeeARawFoodie – I absolutely love the idea of thinking about green food as a luxury. I never thought about it that way, but it does put a completely different spin on it.

    I started a box garden last year and had quite a bit of success. Right now garlic is growing in it. I plan to add another two boxes this year and expand on the varieties of vegetables we grow.

  8. Whole Foods' prices are decent. I got a crate of clementines for probably about $6.00. Also, check out http://www.localharvest.org for the closest CSA to you.

    CSAs aren't cheaper than buying fruits and veggies at the store, but the value is often great because of the amount you get for the money you spend. Plus it's local (without the long distance cost of shipping, plus it supports local businesses and jobs. And, on top of that, it introduces produce that you might not have otherwise tried. So, you learn new ways to cook what you receive. You're likely to get more than enough produce to cover your needs.

    Our CSA was 22 weeks of the year for $550ish.

  9. @Mrs. Money – You know I have the same issue with Costco. I'm afraid I'll buy all that produce and never eat it. Do you find a lot of your food goes to waste or do you make concerted efforts to eat all of it?


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