You read that right. What if there were a way to buy fresh, local, organic produce, for LESS than the non-organic stuff you’d find in the produce aisle at your favorite grocery store? You’d be interested wouldn’t you?
For those that are unfamiliar with what organic means, I’ll quickly break it down. Simply stated, certified organic means organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation. Animals that produce meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products do not take antibiotics or growth hormones.
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as follows:
“Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled “organic,” a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.”
Now, whether or not organic food is more nutritious, is up for discussion. There are certainly research studies demonstrating both sides of the argument. That said, some recent studies conducted at the University of California, Davis, found that organic tomatoes contained greater concentration of vitamin C, as well as cancer-fighting compounds called phytochemicals. What isn’t up for discussion however, is the fact organic produce won’t be introducing carcinogenic pesticides and fertilizers into your system. You can also rest assured knowing the food you are eating hasn’t been genetically modified. Shouldn’t food be consumed the way nature intended?
As far as taste goes however, there is no comparison. Hundreds of gourmet chefs who opt for organic products in their restaurants, blind-taste testings, and the opinion of millions of consumers make a strong claim that organic food simply tastes better. If you are purchasing from a local organic farm or market, this makes even more sense as the food you are buying is fresher.
Now, I think most of us would buy organic if it simply weren’t so expensive. $6 for a dozen eggs? $3.50 for a small bundle of carrots? $12 for a pound of hamburger meat? These aren’t prices the majority of Americans are willing to spend, even if the alternative means eating produce covered in synthetic chemicals and meat from sick animals. These high prices are what you’ll typically find in the organic section of your supermarket (if you’re lucky enough to have one). Even farmer’s markets, though less expensive than the supermarket, are typically out of the price range for most consumers.
But I’m going to let you in on a little secret. There is a way to buy your produce and even meat products, directly from the source, and it’ll cost you less than buying the non-organic counterparts would at the supermarket. The answer: CSA or Community Supported Agriculture.
What is a CSA you may be wondering. A CSA is an alternative, locally based model of agriculture and food distribution. To state it simply, you subscribe via a weekly or bi-weekly fee to a local farm. In turn, the farm delivers a fresh, organic, and diverse box of produce to your door or nearby pickup location weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your subscription schedule.
By using this method, you get the best of what’s in season, you support your local farmer, get a variety of fruits and vegetables you may not have otherwise purchased, and get more bang for your bucks. Healthier, better tasting, and less expensive. What’s the catch? There isn’t one.
Most farms operating a CSA model charge between 20-50 dollars for a LARGE box of produce. Depending on how often you want a box delivered, you can determine the comparative costs.
Being from San Diego, we have an abundance of local farmers who use this model to distribute their produce. One of my favorites is Be Wise Ranch. To get an idea of what you’re getting for your money, take a look at this recent box:
This is an example of a large box from Be Wise Ranch. All of this organic, tasty, and locally grown produce delivered to you, for $30. You simply can’t beat that. There are of course hundreds of farms that participate, and you can easily search Google to find something near you.
For the meat eaters, there are of course cattle, chicken, pork, etc. farms out there that do the same thing. Prices are much more affordable than supermarket prices. An example of a cattle CSA is Green Beef. For $64 a month, Green Beef will deliver 8 pounds of grass-fed, organic, and delicious beef. This comes out to just $8/pound. You’re not going to find organic beef at this price anywhere you look, with the exception of those who are buying in bulk (1/4 cow, 1/2 cow, etc.)
The point of all this is, organic, healthy foods don’t have to be expensive. You just have to know where to look. Support your local farmer and benefit yourself in the process by signing up for a CSA.
*I am not an employee of, have any stake in, or have been asked to write a recommendation for Be Wise Ranch or Green Beef.