Organic September - the UK's biggest celebration of all things organic - is in full swing, and there are loads of great reasons to get involved. If you love clean living and want to steer clear of chemicals and in your food, this is a great opportunity to go organic. Many pesticides stick around in our food no matter how much washing and cooking we do, so eating more organic fruit and veg is a great way to reduce your exposure to pesticides. And as of last year, new research found that organic fruit and veg has a higher nutritional quality than non-organic. But that's only part of the story - there are also great benefits for animals and the environment, too. Often, people don't realise that organic is free range by nature, and farmers provide their animals with the highest quality of life possible and support our environment by providing natural habitats for wildlife. So the decisions you make when it comes to food are a simple but really powerful form of direct action and small changes really can make a big difference!
The good news is that organic doesn't have to break the bank - it's widely available in all the major supermarkets as well as many local shops and farmers markets. Here are some tips to help you include organic food as part of your weekly shop without changing your daily routine.
Go for organic dairy. Organic yogurt comes in a huge selection of tasty flavours - from Greek style yogurt with honey to classic British fruits and inventive combinations, and it's an easy and cost effective way to get your daily dose of dairy. Plus, it's regularly on promotion, so you can often find it for the same price or only pennies more than non-organic yogurt. If you're new to organic, organic milk is a great place to start - because organic farming systems produce milk with higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and a healthier balance of omega-6. And it's easy to get your hands on organic milk while you're out and about too - did you know that McDonalds and Pret a Manger only serve organic milk?
Eat less, but better meat. Switch to organic meat once a week and trying lower cost cuts like shoulder or belly can make a big difference to your wallet - and they're tasty, too. Pop into your local butcher for advice on cuts, or make a weekly roast - it doesn't have to be on a Sunday. Spending £10-15 on a joint or whole chicken may seem pricey but you can get several meals out of it, making it cheaper than buying a single cut in the end.
Stock up on organic essentials. Many organic store cupboard essentials - like organic baked beans, pasta and canned tomatoes - are often a similar price compared to the same non-organic option, and they're widely available in many supermarkets. Buying in bulk helps too, and a thrifty solution is to find other people interested in buying organic products and set up a co-op.
Sign up for an organic veg box. If you want brilliant value for money when it comes to the fresh organic veg, signing up for a weekly box scheme is a great way to get local, seasonal and organic fruit and veg delivered straight to your doorstep, for less. A veg box will give you a great base of fresh ingredients, and make shopping that much easier when you can do it from your couch. A great alternative is visiting your local farmers market for the best in seasonal veg - or if you're pushed for time, it's easy to get your hands on organic veg staples in supermarkets from Aldi and Lidl to Morrisons.
Go back to basics and choose organic potatoes, carrots and onions. The staples of any food shop, these hearty veg are harvested in September - so not only are they fresher, but they're low cost, too, because veg is cheaper when it is in season as it's more abundant. Make the most of your veg by cooking in larger batches, use herbs and spices, and cheaper ingredients like tinned tomatoes or beans and pulses to bulk things out, and then freeze left over portions. This is a great way to make less into more.
Put something organic in your lunchbox. The easiest way to make more of your lunch organic is to plan ahead. It may sound obvious, but wasted food is money down the drain - so stay organised by making a budget. By planning your meals for the week, you can prioritise to make the best organic purchases. Better still, try doing it yourself - making your own organic flapjacks, muesli, smoothies and juices can save tons of money compared to pre-packaged varieties.
Want more tips? Check out our Organic 30 list, which has easy swaps you can make throughout the month from switching to organic tea bags to trying organic ice cream.