Waste Not, Want Not: Buying Organic Economically

economic shopping for organic food photo

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been lambasting the nation for wasting food--apparently the British throw out 4.1 million tons of good food each year--wasting an average of £420 (US$832) per household. This has struck a note with newspapers as disparate as the Times ("How to cook without wasting food") to the Daily Express (a popular tabloid) musing on the effects of the credit crunch and the soaring price of food.

Here is a succinct reflection from the Independent: "More effectively than any save-the-planet propaganda, financial pressures are forcing people to rethink they way they behave as consumers. The old-fashioned idea that waste is harmful, personally and socially, is returning. The absurd over-packaging of food in supermarkets has begun to seem absurdly profligate. There is a new interest in allotments, in growing vegetables, even in rearing poultry in the back garden."

One of the first places to cut back has turned out to be organic food--in some supermarkets organic chickens are being electronically tagged, due to theft.


The press have published lots of good ideas about cutting back whilst maintaining quality. Here are some ways to continue shopping organically, but more economically.

Shop around
Keep an eye on prices in different stores--supermarkets aren't always the cheapest since their prices go up and down to attract customers. Local shops often have more consistent prices.


Check the Sell-by Date
The dates on food packaging warning of the dates after which food goes bad are set by the manufacturers and tend to err on the side of caution. One researcher said " They have to be extra cautious because they don't know how the food is going to be treated after it has left the supermarket." Use your judgement on this.

Take a different cut of meat
"Avoid chicken breasts, especially if skinned and off the bone. Opt for thighs instead. Almost all meat is cheaper if sold on the bone and you often get added flavour and texture." Buy cheaper hamburger meat; brown it and skim the fat off with a slotted spoon.

Grow Your Own
Treehugger has written about this one...


Use your freezer
It's not heresy. According to one chef: "Frozen fruit and vegetables are much cheaper than fresh items. There's no evidence they are less healthy. When you buy them frozen they have often just been picked so can be fresher and better for you than food left at the bottom of the fridge for a week or more." :: Daily Express

More on Economical Food Shopping
:: Cooking Basics
:: Growing in the City
:: Allotments Week
:: Is the Economy Affecting Your Habits

Related Content on Treehugger.com