How to lower your organic food bill


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There are more organic food outlets in my suburb than ever before: the weekly farmers' market with its organic stalls, a couple of independent grocery stores selling organic fruit, vegetables, dairy and groceries.

There is an organic butcher, baker and pasta shop.

I can buy an expanding range of organics at the big brand supermarkets, Coles, Woolworths and Aldi. If I'm too busy to go shopping there are excellent home delivery organic food services too.

organic food organic meals

The upside is lower prices. Six months ago a new organic grocery store opened opposite the store that had enjoyed a monopoly for 12 years.

The result is prices of some fruit and vegetables the same as non-organic food.

Six in 10 Australian households now buy organics (up from four in 10 in 2008) and retail organic sales hit $1 billion in 2010, according to the Australian Organic Market Report.

Organic poultry and egg sales are up 75% over the past two years, followed by milk and dairy (36%), meat processors (25%) and fruit and wine 16.5%.

Ninety-one per cent of Australians say "chemical free" is important to them.

Holly Vyner, general manager of Biological Farmers of Australia, says if you want the freshest organic at the best price, your local market is normally the best option.

Some cities have organic markets where the majority of stalls are certified organic such as the Northey Street Market in Brisbane or the Perth City Farm Organic Grower's Market.

Vyner says even if you can't find a dedicated organic market, many markets will have one or two stalls that sell organic produce.

"Be diligent and check that you are buying 'certified organic'," she says.

"Market stalls should display a certifier's certificate so that you can be confident that you are purchasing truly organic produce. If not, ask to be sure."

Vyner says supermarkets have increased their organic home brand ranges and sell well-priced goods such as tinned produce, bottled oils, spreads, dairy and some other groceries.

"Consumers can be well assured that supermarket home brand products that display an organic logo such as the bud carry the same integrity as any other product in the marketplace displaying that logo," says Vyner.

You can eat a healthy organic diet on a tight budget.

You may have to adjust to eating less meat and always food in season. If you're happy to eat vegetable curry, lentil salad or a Spanish omelette, you're fine.

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Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.