We are fortunate to live in a well-informed and enlightened age, where guidance on how to conduct a healthy lifestyle is accessible to all social groups and demographics. This has resulted in an increasing demand for organic food, drink and produce. So much so that the industry earned $26.7 billion in revenue during 2010. Showing an increase of 7.7% on the figures recorded in 2009, organic food has continued to grow in popularity despite being more expensive due to its smaller scale production and the labor-intensive processes involved. With consumers wanting to achieve value for money, is it possible to eat both healthily and frugally in 2012?

Shop Around
Citizens in the U.S. have certainly reduced the amount that they spend on food over the course of the last five decades, thanks largely to improved agricultural productivity and the wider range of choices that have been made available to them. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spent a total of 15.3% of their household budgets on food and beverage costs in 2011, as opposed to 40% in 1949. This decrease also has much to do with the improved knowledge of the modern day consumer, which ensures that consumers know where to go in order to source the very best value for their money.

This is vital in sourcing affordable organic food, and it is important to carefully select both your supplier and the types of food that you purchase. In terms of the former, local markets and farms offer the most competitive prices, primarily because you can make a purchase almost directly from the source and avoid the high mark-up costs of grocery stores. In terms of selecting your food, it is crucial that your produce is in season and easily accessible. This allows you to minimize any potential shipping costs while also negating the issue of high demand and limited availability.

Buying in Bulk
Bulk buying may well be an established money saving practice for retailers, but it can also be adopted to benefit the modern day consumer. This is especially true when it comes to buying organic food, which is now available in an increasing range of specialist and mass market wholesale stores. Produce such as soy, almond milk and shelf-stable rice can be sourced in large cases, and there are a number of organic spreads and sauces that do not expire quickly and can therefore be stored for significant periods of time.

This practice also allows you to purchase seasonal goods in bulk, and subsequently freeze any excess produce during the off-season to get the most value out of your investment. A successful bulk-buying strategy is dependent on your ability to plan frugally and purchase core staple produce so that you have a supply of multi-purpose ingredients that can be used in a range of different meals and dishes. The exact savings that you can make through buying in bulk varies from state to state in the U.S., but it is certainly a great way to reduce the cost of purchasing organic foods.

Know Your Costs
As with any money-saving effort, sourcing affordable organic produce relies heavily on your ability to learn the market and compare rival costs. Comparing price is a crucial part of this, especially with an increasing number of grocery stores now introducing their own range of organic produce to compete with specialist brands. You must be patient and develop a knowledge of each brand and the value that they offer in exchange for your money.

There are other items of knowledge that will stand you in good stead when purchasing organic food, especially if you aim to secure your produce in bulk. For example, it is critical that you understand the cost per unit (CPU) of the products that you buy in addition to their fixed retail price. The CPU is calculated by dividing an item's cost price by a specific quantity or unit weight. This enables you to calculate your budget in cents rather than dollars, and also develop a far greater understanding of where you can make savings on organic food.

The Bottom Line
As consumers are employing a wider range of effective money-saving techniques, the demand for organic food and beverages is continuing to rise. By developing an understanding of the market and the suppliers who trade within it, it is possible to minimize your costs and enjoy the benefits of organic food without breaking the bank.

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