Go Organic Without Breaking Bank
By Megan Garrison
I admit that most people, when they hear the term “organic,” immediately think healthy, tasteless and expensive. And to be honest, who wouldn’t?
The whole point of organic food is that is it not processed, not supplemented and, overall, not altered genetically. Over the course of the 20th century, researchers and farmers came up with novel methods of providing efficient food production and growth. However, not all of the additives and additions to mother nature were beneficial to our bodies or to the environment.
Surprisingly, the move towards — or rather back to — organic farming takes place in the 1940s with the Green Revolution. The “organic kick” we all imagine to be just a part of our hipster generation actually started decades ago due to the push of industrialization on local family-owned farms. Now there are health issues that are pushing the organic movement of our generation, specifically issues with pesticides, additives and chemicals used to grow produce quicker and on a massive scale, in order to turn over higher profits.
What exactly separates organic products from non-organic products? Foods claiming to be organic must be free of artificial food additives and are often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions such as chemical ripening, food irradiation and genetically modified ingredients. Pesticides are allowed so long as they are not synthetic. The USDA monitors large agricultural corporations to see if they follow guidelines and rules set for organic food production. Large chain grocery stores often opt out of the organic food production because it’s more expensive for them to supply and they receive lower profit margins due to low sales.
This means that if you go to Wal-Mart and search for the organic food section, I can almost guarantee that you will be disappointed, and most likely searching your pockets for more money. Big name grocery stores won’t carry large amounts of organic food, and if they do, it is not going to be part of the produce or meat aisle but most likely tucked away somewhere among the nuts, the grains or the seeds aisle.
So organic food is healthier, better for the environment and probably also better for household pets, but it’s next to impossible to find it in the most frequented grocery stores, and even if you do find the organic section at Kroger, it’s too expensive. It seems there is no solution in this organic food catch 22. What if I told you there is?
In my humble experience eating organically, I have found a number of not-so-secret-but-barely-publicized locations to purchase organic food that is affordable, healthy and best of all, tasty.
We’ll start with a small, local establishment called Healthy Alternative. Healthy Alternative is a natural food market that stocks all organic food such as teas, spices, non-dairy items, bread, fresh produce and even non-vegetarian items. The market is located at 8258 N. Main St. right here in Dayton. The market is inexpensive and has a large variety of choices for its customers.
Another great destination is Natural Foods Plus. This store specializes in the packaging side of organic food. For long-lasting products that are healthy and inexpensive, this store is the place to go, and it’s located at 2901 Philadelphia (at Siebenthaler) in Dayton.
The best places, however, are going to be open markets that local farmers and shop owners attend, bringing their products for you to purchase. These types of markets are my favorite. They have tons of variety, a fun atmosphere and the best prices for a low budget student like myself. One of my favorites is the Yellow Springs Farmers’ Market. The only downside is the limited hours: it’s only open on Saturdays between May 1st and October 31st, so if you’re looking for organic food in the winter, you should cross this market off the list. However, for a large chunk of the year they reign supreme as far as farmer’s markets go. The variety is astounding. You can pretty much buy all your groceries in one place, and the people are very helpful and friendly. I would highly recommend you clearing a Saturday just to make a trip to Yellow Springs to visit the market.
The last place — but the best one in my opinion — is located in downtown Dayton, on 2nd Street, which is precisely why it is called the 2nd Street Market. Now at first, it may not look like a large establishment with a lot of variety, but once you step inside, the store seems to open up and expand with numerous stands and vendors. The people are great, the food is delicious and the products are by far the cheapest of any place I’ve ever found. It’s a great place to go, even on a rainy day, because it’s inside and they are open Thursday through Sunday year round.
I may not be an expert when it comes to the science of organic food but I am an expert when it comes to delicious, inexpensive products that are beneficial to my environment and me. So make the change to organic today — there’s nothing holding you back.
Reach DCP freelance writer Megan Garrison at MeganGarrison@daytoncitypaper.com