Fruits and Vegetables - Getting the Most for Your Money

Fruits and vegetables are good for you. We all know that. But they can be expensive. What can we do to save the cost and still get the best produce money can buy?

To get the most out of your produce and your wallet buy fruits and vegetables that are grown locally and in season. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutritional value immediately after being picked. The longer they are in transit, the more nutrients are lost. Even though organic foods are more expensive, you are receiving more nutrients and less harmful toxins (herbicides & pesticides) from them. In addition, you are supporting your local farmers, which in the end can also save you money by helping their business grow!

The best way to buy local, organic produce is from local farmers and farmer’s markets. You not only get your fruits and vegetables closer to their harvest time (less time in transit and on the shelf means more nutrition and less cost), but you have less people handling your food, less transportation cost (good for your wallet and the environment), and you can make local connections.

Another way to get great organic produce from local farmers is to have an organic grocer, like Planet Organics, deliver produce right to your door! I love this, as a busy mom it definitely is a time saver!

By buying local, organic fruits and vegetables you are getting more nutrients per dollar than buying conventional , shipped-in produce – not to mention, getting more short and long-term health benefits.

If still can’t tweak your budget enough to buy organic food, try to at least buying organic fruits and vegetables that have the LEAST amount of pesticide residues on them. According to the Environmental Working Group, those foods highest in pesticides are: peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, imported grapes, pears, spinach, potatoes, carrots, green beans and cucumbers (in that order). Scoring low, as the cleaner and perhaps safer to buy conventionally grown produce, are; onions, avocados, frozen sweet corn, pineapples, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, bananas, cabbage, broccoli and eggplant. (Get the complete list here.) Washing your foods helps but does not eliminate toxins, and peeling the skins off of them also reduces the toxins but at the cost of also losing a large amount of nutrients.

Buying frozen fruits and vegetables may be a good option for those who can’t get local, organic produce within their budget. Many times, fruits and vegetables are frozen close to their harvest time so the nutrients are preserved to a higher degree than other methods of preserving. Canned food isn’t recommended because the heat, processing, and additives all create a lesser quality of food for optimal health.

Be a comparative shopper and find the best deals in your area. It doesn’t save time, money, or the environment to drive great distances to save a few bucks, so stick to your area. Normally, buying bulk saves you money, but since fruits and vegetables are perishable you can really only do this with items like nuts, seeds and other dried foods on your list.

Reduce the amount of other foods in your grocery cart to allow for more organic produce. This is not only wise on your budget, but in your diet and health as well. We get the most active and life-giving nutrients from living foods. They will fuel your body much better than a lot of the canned, boxed, bagged and packaged foods in your cart. A rule of (green) thumb is, if your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize your grocery item as ‘food’ than chances are, your body won’t either.

And while we are on the subject of reducing grocery bulk, once you get in the habit of buying mostly fruits and vegetables (this may take a while) you can even begin to reduce the quantity of the produce you buy too. As your body becomes adjusted to more live fruits and vegetables it will be receiving more nutrients per bite, therefore need less food for optimal health… experts also say eating less over-all and choosing nutrient-dense produce is the key to health and longevity.

Another reason many of us have a bulky grocery bill is that we put a lot of items in our grocery bags that are comfort foods rather than nutritional foods. So to help reduce the amount of foods we buy (for our health’s and budget’s benefit) begin to identify what you really need to feel ‘full of life’ and replace your comfort food with something even more pleasurable to you… family, sports, an outdoor activity, yoga, friends, reading, a spiritual practice, meditation, a new career, a hobby, or whatever feels right to you. Your mind, body, spirit and wallet will all be happier for it!

In our quest for the best produce, don’t forget the power and economic value of super foods and fresh, raw food concentrates. They may seem pricey at first glance, but dollar for dollar many of them are a great bargain for your budget and more importantly for your health.

Finally, when we are looking for the best bargain in our nutritional pursuits, we come to the realization that once we put a higher value on something like our health, which is fueled by high-quality living produce, we most likely can find a way to support it. What we focus on expands. Focus on health, quality nutrition, happiness and a means of receiving it… and you may surprise yourself how quickly God and the Universe respond. May your journey of good nourishment and good nurture be delicious!

Here's a summary of smart-buys for quality fruits and vegetables:

· Buy local, organic food – preferably from farmer’s markets
· Buy conventional produce that is low on the pesticide list
· Buy frozen fruits and vegetables, if needed
· Compare prices from local stores
· Reduce the amount of non-produce items on your list
· Reduce your overall grocery bulk
· Replace comfort foods with free pleasures
· Buy quality, whole food concentrates
· Put a higher value on health and be open to receive it