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17 tips for buying organic food on the cheap
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"If there are coupons offered, take them, use them," DiMatteo says.

And don't forget to look online.

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Stonyfield Farm offers single-use e-coupons for its dairy products on its Web site.

At Mambo Sprouts' site, you can sign up to receive coupons by mail for Boca burgers, calcium chocolates, broccoli sprouts, energy bars, and baking mix, among other organic products. Downloadable e-coupons are coming soon.

Keep in mind that not all retail stores accept online coupons. Before printing out a bunch of online coupons, you may want to make sure you can use the e-coupons at a grocer near you.

12. Grow your own.
If you're really serious about garden-fresh organic produce, why not plant your own?

Seeds are available from companies such as Seeds of Change.

And Organic Kitchen has a big roundup of organic gardening tips.

Start small. Carrots, radishes and beets are easy to grow.

"Start slow," Cool says. "Just do a few things at a time."

13. Shop online.
Can't find a local source for the organic food you want? Don't give up. Hop online. You may be able to order the organic foods that you want online.

The GreenPeople directory from the Organic Consumer Association is a good place to begin your online search for affordable organic foods. A roundup of additional organic directories is also available on the site.

And be sure to check out this list of cyber-markets offering organic products from Organic Kitchen.

"There are a lot of offerings online that will send you what you want," DiMatteo says. "Shop wisely."

14. Mix and match.
There may be no single source for the organic foods you want at the prices you can afford. Be creative.

Join a co-op and shop at a local farmers' market. Buy a share in a CSA program, join a buying club and shop the organic section at a conventional supermarket.

Shop sales at a natural foods store, plant a garden and order organic food online.

Ask your favorite organic restaurant or juice bar where they get their food. They may direct you to their distributor or let you piggyback off some of their orders.

15. Be flexible.
To nab the best deals on organic foods you need to be a focused, yet flexible, shopper.

Always shop with a list but never be afraid to snap up a good bargain when you see one. Write "three vegetables" on your shopping list and then look around at store specials. Do the same for proteins and grains.

Use store discount fliers when planning your weekly menus. More mindful shopping can save you money.

Never ever buy an item that you don't need just because it's on sale or you have a coupon.

16. Rethink your food budget.
Free up more dollars for organic food by trimming the fat from your conventional food budget. Add up all the dollars you spend every month on food, including fast food meals, morning cups of coffee, bagels and even trips to vending machines. A small change in your eating habits could free up the money you need to buy the organic foods that you really want.

17. Ease into organic.
Begin the transition to organic eating with some of your favorite foods.

"Pick a product or two that you decide you really notice a difference in taste and that really excites you," DiMatteo says.

Families with young children may want to start by buying organic baby food and dairy products.

"Whatever your kids eat the most of is where you start," Cummins says.

If you're concerned about pesticides, you may want to substitute organic foods for conventional foods with the highest levels of pesticide residues. These include apples, apricots, peaches, pears, red raspberries, strawberries, spinach, peppers, celery and potatoes.

For a complete list, see "Fresh Choices: More than 100 Easy Recipes for Pure Food When You Can't Buy 100% Organic" at generationgreen.org.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Updated: July 2, 2008
 
 
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