Many people who would like to eat organic fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat and V poultry are put off by the high prices. Organic foods can cost 25% to 100% more than regular foods--but if you're willing to do a bit of sleuthing and look beyond traditional grocery stores, you can find organic products for much less.

My organization's Web site,, has links to most of the resources suggested below…

  • Compare prices of conventional and organic foods when shopping at regular grocery stores. Occasionally, the price gap narrows dramatically, or organic foods may even be cheaper.
  • Shop at a farmers' market. You can find bargains if you prowl around the stalls of your local farmers' market. You'll save even more if you haggle. Farmers may be especially willing to negotiate prices if produce is misshapen or closing time is approaching.

Sample savings: Organic apples at a farmers' market often are 25% to 50% cheaper than organic apples at grocery or natural-food stores.

  • Consider purchasing a share in a community-supported agriculture program (CSA). There are more than 1,000 of these programs around the US. Through a CSA, you purchase produce from an organic farmer in a region near you. You'll receive a weekly basket that contains produce, flowers and perhaps even eggs and milk. A share in a CSA typically costs several hundred dollars for one growing season, which could last half a year (prices vary dramatically depending on location). In mild regions, such as California, you can receive just-picked produce year-round. Each week, it's fun to discover what goodies are in the basket.

Sample savings: In rural Minnesota, where I live, I pay $450 for the season and split my weekly harvest with another family. This is at least 50% cheaper than store prices.

Helpful: Most CSAs deliver produce orders to a central location. You may be able to reduce the price of your weekly delivery if you allow your front porch to serve as a delivery spot for your neighborhood.

CSAs can be found at the Web site of Local Harvest (, as well as on my Web site.

  • Join a food co-op. Co-ops typically of fer high-quality organic food and produce at a discount for members. You may be required to volunteer your time for a certain number of hours each month. For a list of co-ops, see my organization's Web site.
  • Buy in bulk. This is a great way to save money on long-lasting and nonperishable organic food, such as dried beans, lentils, pasta, rice, cereals, trail mix, nuts and even peanut butter. Health-food stores, Whole Foods, and even some supermarkets sell bulk items.

Cheaper still: Join a wholesale buying club (regular yearly membership fee is between $35 and $50). The minimum order for the club I belong to is $1,000 every three months, so I share a membership with several families in my area.

Typical savings: 30% to 50% off retail.

There is no national directory of buying clubs. Ask your local natural food store for the names of its organic-food suppliers and contact them.

  • Eat seasonally. You're sure to overpay if you buy organic fruits and vegetables off-season. That's when you want to buy frozen or canned. When produce is bountiful and cheap, you may want to freeze or dry it for the coming months.

Steps to Safer Produce

Several deaths as a result of Escherichia coli-contaminated spinach have left many people wary of fresh produce. In the case of the contaminated spinach, even washing the leaves doesn't seem to have eliminated the risk. That's why the government must ensure safe growing conditions and handling by the food industry. Meanwhile, consumers should follow these food-handling guidelines from the not-for-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education…

  • Check that fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, such as packaged salads and precut melons, are refrigerated by the store.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling produce.
  • Wash surfaces and utensils with hot water and soap before and after preparation of produce.
  • Rub firm-skin produce under running tap water or scrub with a vegetable brush while rinsing. With leafy produce, such as spinach, rinse until the water comes through the food clear. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Never use detergent or bleach to wash produce.
  • Throw away any produce that won't be cooked if it has touched raw meat, poultry or seafood

Enjoy Fruit and Veggies Without Pesticides

For good health, most of us have been told that we should significantly increase our intake of fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we have been warned about the potential health hazards of pesticides, and little research is available to determine the long-term health effects of regularly eating foods with low levels of pesticide residues. What to do…

  • Wash and scrub fruits and vegetables. Soaking in water can loosen debris, and scrubbing with a soft brush helps remove contaminants in crevices. Running water is an effective way to rinse off residue-commercial produce rinses are only slightly more effective.
  • Choose organic. This is especially important for foods known to have the most pesticide residue, such as nectarines, peaches, apples, spinach and celery. Large natural food stores often have the widest selection and most competitive prices.
  • Buy conventional produce selectively. If you can't always buy organic, choose fruits and vegetables that have the lowest amounts of pesticide residue-asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet corn, kiwi, mangos, onions and papaya.

Super Juices That Fight Alzheimer's, Cancer, More

Gulp for gulp, purple grape, cranberry and cloudy apple juices contain the most health-benefiting antioxidant nutrients found in morning beverages.

So say a team of Glasgow University scientists who compared various fruit juices believed to help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's, heart disease and certain cancers.

A Really-Full Glass

What makes those the best beverages? They contain the highest concentrations of the very strongest antioxidants to fight free radicals, renegade cells that damage healthy ones and precipitate many harmful conditions.

Juice made with Concord grapes has the best range of polyphenols with the highest antioxidant capacity.

Advice: "Supplementing a healthy diet with a regular intake of a variety of fruit juices such as purple grape juice, grapefruit juice, cloudy apple juice and cranberry juice will, without major dietary changes, increase the consumer's intake of phenolic antioxidants," notes study author and researcher Alan Crozier, professor of plant biochemistry and human nutrition at Glasgow University.

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