Not so with buying responsibly. Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind paying a little more when a product is local, sustainable, or simply healthier. And if one really goes comparing, those items are generally of a better quality, and can be considered the same, or even a better value than the cheaper alternative.
But for the things my family needs every day, budgeting to shop responsibly is much more difficult. The little daily extras quickly add up to Big Monthly Extras, and when it comes to buying organic produce, my wallet deflates faster than you can say: Three tomatoes and a head of lettuce.
That’s why I was delighted to find out about organic buying clubs. Most organic buying clubs purchase bulk amounts of produce every week or every other week. They divide it among their members, who pay a set price in advance for their (bi-)weekly (half-)share. Everyone gets the same organic produce, and everyone saves money.
About six months ago -after a thorough internet search for clubs in the Miami area- I became a member of Annie’s Organic Buying Club. They have a good number of pickup points, and they let me adjust my share and pay online. Annie’s likes to buy local and seasonal produce, which makes for an interesting variety in the items they put in each share. Some of my shares have included things I would not normally buy, and prompted me to expand my culinary repertoire. The content of Annie’s shares gets posted a few days before pickup, and if they contain anything you absolutely object to, you can ask to make a trade for another item.
I’ve been very happy with Annie’s, and so has my wallet. Every other week I get to pick up a big box of organic fruits and vegetables. The fruit (which is beautiful, but we eat a lot of it) feeds our small family of three for about a week before my husband goes out to buy more. The vegetables are very fresh and enough to provide a full two weeks worth of meals. And it all costs me $50 per bi-weekly share. So for a little over $100 per month, my family eats beautiful organic produce most of the time.
If you are on a budget, and if you’re open to planning your meals around what’s in your share, I highly recommend an organic buying club. It is an affordable, fun way to get your organic produce. We still spend more than we would on regular produce, but the difference is no longer astronomical. And knowing that it is healthier for us and the environment is well worth the extra expense.