You Don’t Have to Break the Bank to Eat Organic

The other day,  I overheard a conversation that inspired me to write this post. This guy said he didn’t make enough money to eat organic food. The lady he was talking to started raving about how affordable Trader Joe’s was and how much she liked Whole Foods. That’s when the guy admitted that he had never actually set foot in either place.

I remember before there was a Whole Foods in my area, my mom and I shopped at food co-ops or small health food stores. The common thread amongst shoppers was usually their viewpoints on the environment and health, not tax bracket. Today, the presence of a Whole Foods in a neighborhood often tells you a lot more about property values, than people’s love for the environment. But do you really have to be well off to include organic food in your diet?

I decided to compare prices  at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Albertsons for a few staple items. I was shocked by what I found.

I looked at the prices for three items you’ll find in most refrigerators in the U.S.: milk, juice and eggs.

Milk: I was shocked that the Shoppes Value whole milk at Albertsons and the Trader Joe’s whole milk were the same price. The milk at Trader Joe’s is made from cows not treated with rBST, an artificial growth hormone. Nothing on the Shoppes Value label mentioned whether or not the cows that produce their milk have been treated with rBST. The FDA says no significant difference exists between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST-treated cows however, rBST is not approved for use in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Eggs: The Albertsons eggs were the least expensive, with the greatest savings if you have an Albertsons savings card. Without the discount card, the savings is $0.70 versus Trader Joe’s cage free eggs and $1.70 versus Whole Foods organic, cage free eggs. After I read this article about organic and cage free eggs, the additional $1.70 for organic, cage free eggs is probably worth it though.

Juice: The Hawaiian Punch falls in the middle price wise. However, it was the only drink to contain high fructose corn syrup as well as an ingredient called Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin, that’r right, wood rosin. The lemonade at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods was mainly made of the same ingredients you would use if you made it at home: sugar, water and lemons.

If you need milk, eggs and juice you won’t break the bank if you go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, but what if you wanted to have a more complete meal?Someone’s Italian grandmother might roll over in her grave, but you can ease your hunger pangs with minimal effort if you boil some spaghetti, open of a jar of tomato sauce, and pop open a bag of salad. If you wanted to purchase the items to make a basic spaghetti dinner, which store would you save the most?

Once again, organic items at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s turned out to be the better priced options. I was blown away by how much of a savings Trader Joe’s offered. As I continued to compare other items like butter, olive oil, mustard, deli meat, and sliced cheese, I was continuously shocked to find that either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods had lower prices. If Albertsons had a lower price, it was not more than a dollar cheaper than the price at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods and it either lacked the organic ingredients and/or had more additives.

So the next time you pass a Whole Foods or a Trader Joe’s, don’t clutch your wallet in fear, it is possible to include natural and/or organic foods in your diet without breaking the bank.