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Buying Organic Produce: 6 Tips on How to Shop Wisely and Save Money

Some say they don't or can't buy organic foods due to higher cost and less availability. Here are a few ways to make organics more affordable and easier to purchase for your family.

1. Do not always assume organic is more expensive. Look at the prices of conventional and organic products and compare. You may be surprised that on some items, there is little or no difference in price, depending on where and when you buy.

2. Buy in season. These items will be the lowest priced, whether you're shopping at a specialty market or local farmer's market.

3. Grow your own. Even a small window box can yield some organic herbs or tomatoes. Larger areas can accommodate lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, carrots and more. A garden is also a great classroom and hobby for children and adults alike.

4. Shop at one of the more than 2,500 farmers' markets in the United States. The produce here is as fresh as possible, because the food is usually picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This is a great place to check prices with little effort. Becoming a regular shopper and getting to know growers personally, is a good way to get the best selection and price.

5. Join a food cooperative. A food co-op is kind of a buyers club for affordable, fresh, local organic and natural products. It is an actual store where members buy "shares" of the business to provide the capital necessary to run the store efficiently. You as a member directly influence the kind and variety of products and foods available, and also receive a discount in the store. Many co-ops allow you to "buy" shares by volunteering several hours per week or month.

6. Visit a farm and pick your own produce. Children love to experience something new, especially when it involves dirt and food. According to the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) "Parents had reported that their children started to eat more vegetables after visiting a farm on a school field trip, having experienced for the first time the process of gardening."

Lisa Barnes is the owner of Petit Appetit, an educational service promoting healthy eating habits and good nutrition for infants and toddlers. She is also the author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook (Penguin March 2005). For information and to sign up for a free newsletter visit http://www.petitappetit.com

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