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Ten ways to save money and buy organic and local to start the new year



  1. Shop at your local farmer’s market. If you wait towards the end of the market, many farmers are willing to sell at lower rates to get rid of inventory.
  2. Join a local CSA in your area for a weekly produce box, fresh from a local farm. Some of these items are much cheaper than at Whole Foods. Some examples of CSAs are FarmFreshToYou and others found on Om Organics’ website in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  3. Find private label organic food items. At Safeway, they now sell their own organic food line O Organics. At Whole Foods, they have their 365 everyday value items. These items tend to have reasonable food prices.
  4. Shop at your local co-op. My personal favorite is Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco. It is like the Costco of Whole Foods. Not necessarily the prettiest place to shop, but full of choices, bulk and great prices.
  5. Buy bulk items. Don’t bother buying core items like rice and oatmeal from small boxes. At places like Whole Foods, and co-ops like Rainbow Grocery, it is easy to find wide varieties of healthy grains, nuts, dried fruits and other goodies in the bulk aisle. One of my favorite items is the almond butter, fresh and bulk.
  6. My personal favorite store for value-Trader Joe’s. Sure their produce quality is not the best, but many of their packaged items are great prices.
  7. Use food delivery services like Planet Organics in the San Francisco Bay Area. They deliver straight to your home once a week, and you can choose any items you want, unlike a CSA. I’ve been using them for a month, and really enjoy the quality of their produce.
  8. Grow your own vegetables and fruits in your patio or yard. Tomatoes are especially a good thing to grow as they tend to be more expensive than other produce.
  9. Find coupons for organic and local food. Whole Foods has a coupon flyer in their stores that has many discounts on natural food items. There are local guides such as Green Zebra and EcoMetro Guide that have dozens of discounts for organic and local items.
  10. Avoid chains and try shopping at local markets. My favorite local market is Sigona’s in Redwood City for produce. Their produce prices are some of the best in the area given the quality of their organic and local sourcing. Another example is the Milk Pail in Mountain View.


1 jeanne { 03.17.10 at 8:34 pm }

I am SHOCKED by your #1 comment on this page. If everyone were to listen to you, why would the farmers continue to sell their produce at the markets?
Your remarks are self-serving and inconsiderate, financially damaging to the individual farmer, and might ultimately result in the farmers’ markets becoming more like the “grocery store” experience we seek to avoid.
Do us all a favor and stop giving advice on the top ten ways to save money and buy organic… and give the independent farmer a real reason to continue to sell his/her produce at our markets!

If people follow your advice in #1, there may not be a #1 alternative in the future.
I also wonder what #10 thinks about your #1.
Or maybe THAT is your real goal: get rid of the farmer in #1 so that #10 wins out?!?
What if?

2 Christine { 03.19.10 at 10:56 am }

You raise some very good points. Of course we’d like to see the farmers to sell produce. I’m not necessarily saying grocery stores are the best way to go, but that given that some people shop at large chains like Walmart, Costco, Safeway etc, that other local grocers provide options for farm harvested food. In an ideal world, I’d love to see farmers sell directly to consumers, but that distribution model won’t scale easily.

3 Gina { 01.17.11 at 12:06 pm }

Another place is Cancillas Market on 3216 Folsom near Precita Park in Bernal Heights. They have organic avocados everyday for 99cents and a large variety of nicely priced organics, much cheaper than Safeway. They hope you also purchase wine or craft beers so they keep the produce nicely priced. Worth a try.

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