Going Organic(22 Posts)
I am trying to change over to organic food and am so far doing ok. We get a big veggie box once a week and i try and order as much organic stuff as possible from the supermarket. But things like meat are just so incredibly expensive. We have a roast every Sunday and normally i would pay £4.50 or so for a large chicken. But an organic same weight one is £14.50. I am managing at the moment to keep to my original food budget by just buying less but better quality food and bulking things out. But there are some things that just seem prohibitively expensive. Has anyone done this and got some useful hints and tips? Do i just have to keep trawling for offers and then freeze them? TIA!
big freezer in garage and buy 4 when the organic is on offer
also you may find a local butchers will end up cheaper
I hadn't thought of going to the butchers. I always think of butchers as being more expensive but I should check them out - thanks for the idea!
My solution was to stop eating meat at home. Although I'm not not veggie by any means, it's probably best to eat less of it
Does it have to be roast chicken? Could you do something else instead like pork or beef?
Eat a lot less (none in my case, but I do eat fish still) meat
I would happily be vegetarian but my husband is a commited meat eater.
No - it doesn't have to be chicken at all. I'm happy to roast anything but the cost of any organic roasting joint just seems to make my eyes water. Like you all say though, I think I will just need to mix the menu up and do less meat - add in fish, a couple of veggie meals and maybe do one big joint that i can use the meat in other meals for the rest of the week.
Thank you for all your ideas - much appreciated.
Since use of pesticides etc has dropped hugely in the last decade, thanks to much more targeted use, I don't bother with organic but do go for the slow-growing breeds you get from butchers or farmer markets - still £14 per bird but the meat is way more dense than a supermarket chicken so can get many more meals out of it (I usually freeze half the breast and a thigh for later).
Look into local veg delivery schemes especially in summer - again may not have paid for organic certification but will be fresh. Meat delivery schemes if you have the space. Also when your supermarket reduces food around 4-5pm there's often expensive meat 1/3 off, for stocking the freezer.
Organic schemes have done great work in pushing for raised standards of food and for livestock welfare, but now legislation has been tightened, organic has practically shot itself in the foot and many farmers have stopped bothering to pay for certification as the premium they were getting wasn't worth it. Seasonal food will always have the least extra chemicals applied, so could look to eating more seasonally to both save money and the environment - and stews are good with winter veg and use cheaper cuts of meat.
Do you live near a WholeFoods? They are ridiculously expensive for a lot of things, but their organic/ free range meat is very good quality, and they often have really good offers on it - I tend to stock up when it's a good price and freeze.
Also, I'd definitely second buying cheap cuts and using the slow cooker!
NotCitrus - thanks for the info. How do you know what breed of chicken you're buying? ie how do you know if it's a slow-growing breed? We have a local farm that's great but nothing is organic and I'm worried about antibiotics (and growth hormones). With my veg box - and i'm going to attempt to grow some soon - I am eating a bit more seasonally than before but didn't know that would mean less pesticides anyway. How come?
Oreos - sadly no Whole Foods near me. I do have a slow cooker though and a pressure cooker so can probably make some cheap cuts taste a bit better with those.
OP - growth hormones arent allowed in EU meat. Only an issue for American meat and dairy. Antibiotics are not used routinely generally (unsure exact reqs) and certainly milk has to be discarded for X days after antibiotics.
If it says how old the chicken or animal is, and it's dense and expensive, it's a breed not bred just to acquire fat ASAP and soak up water so will taste of something. I really don't get the point of crap meat - if people eat Quorn nuggets and can't tell the difference, why involve a chicken?
NotCitrus - really useful info, thank you for taking the time to post. I saw a Jamie Oliver article recently saying no growth hormones were allowed in EU chickens but didn't know it was across all meats.
I bought a £14.50 organic chicken recently and the taste was noticeably better and definitely more meat on it. Will look at improving the meat choices and buy better even if it can't be organic all the time.
We buy as much organic, free range food as possible, but sometimes for reasons of availability/cost, it just not possible to get everything, so you need to work out what your priorities are, and a few strategies.
Firstly, regarding food safety, many additives/pesticides/hormone treatments used in the USA are banned in the EU so you need to read up on what you are avoiding (and why), and work out if it's actually an issue in the UK (if that's where you are), under current legislation. Look at country of origin on everything.
For dry goods, sauces etc, amazon and other online retailers are great, you'll find many things you just won't get in the shops because they are too niche.
Aldi always has a few organic veg (not a great range but usually potatoes, onions and carrots and broccoli at a bare minimum), at really good prices, so I go there on my way to the big supermarket, and get what I can. Aldi also have cheap organic eggs but they are not free range iirc.
Of the big supermarkets, Tesco ime is miles ahead with organic meat, fruit and veg, they have a really good range. Some things (onions, mushrooms, currently), are pretty much the same price as non organic depending on what's in season - some times organic is cheaper if there's an offer on, some things tho, and very much more expensive, so a bit of flexibility with recipes is good to make the most of what's in season/cheap.
Organic free range chicken is expensive, we have it as an occasional treat. Organic beef, lamb and pork are better choices (cheaper cuts, long slow cook), but there are other options. New Zealand lamb. Scottish lamb and beef (I'm in Scotland), as it's mostly raised outdoors even if it's "grain finished".
Farm shops can be a good source of quality meat (ask around), some do online meat shopping, can be cheaper to buy in bulk and freeze if you have the space.
Bun Eggs sold as organic in the UK have to meet the standards of free range as part of the organic specification.
Supermarket offerings vary depending on the budgets of locals - my nearest ones have little organic etc but branches of the same ones two miles away have loads, as well as the olive bar and sushi counter!
UK lamb is practically organic anyway - raised on grassy hills. Beef that's grass-fed ditto - supplementary feed in winter is still a long way from US factory farming of cows in feed lots eating maize.
The EU really tightened legislation on spraying crops in the last decade, and that plus educating farmers on when to spray so you use the least dosage for best effect (eg just when flowers bud), means that say average strawberries have about 10% of the residues they did in the 80s.
Talk to your butcher and farmer stalls - they will give you loads of info!
This is all really reassuring and very helpful. Thanks for the info everyone! Some good tips.
Also look up the Dirty Dozen (fruit and veg you should always buy organic) and Clean15 (fruit and veg that manage to not soak up pesticides so can generally buy safely non organic)
AndHoldTheBun - that's a really good tip re: Tesco. Apart from the fact i hate them, I've just been online and looked at the prices of things like organic grapes and they are half the price of Ocado!
Ha! Ocado, I'd love to have one nearby, or a Waitrose (we are in rural Scotland so that's never going to happen), but I have to make do with what's fairly local to us.
I'm not too keen on Tesco either, but we have a couple of massive 24hr ones in our local city and they are the best/cheapest for most of what I want to buy.
We are the opposite. We have 4 large Waitrose's nearby and only a very small useless Tesco (I'm in the South!).
However, I went online earlier to see if buying my shopping from Tesco would be cheaper. But apart from the cheaper organic fruit, the rest of my shopping was all more expensive at Tesco with them charging more for the bread, yoghurt, literally everything that we normally buy (branded goods for example). Was really surprised. Made more sense in the end for me to order more expensive grapes! But when I'm passing a big Tesco I'll definitely pop in and see what they have.
Yes is definitely worth keeping an eye on the prices of everything as it can be cheaper to go to several shops, for me anyway as I drive into past Aldi (some cheap organic stuff) on the way to the big 24hr Tesco (for most of the shopping) and then a M&S food on the way home (not much organic there, but a few gluten free meat products I like). It does make it a bit of an expedition tho!
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