Organic on a budget

The UK Government has committed in law to cutting the country's greenhouse emissions 80% by 2050. And with our industrialised food and farming system currently responsible for around 30% of UK emissions it's clear that we need to make fundamental changes to way we grow and eat our food. Only radical changes to our diets and farming systems can achieve the level of greenhouse gas cuts needed. And some of these changes can be made the next time you shop. Buying organic food and supporting organic farming, alongside a shift to less and mainly grass-fed meat and dairy products, with more seasonal fruit and vegetables should be the first step for anyone who takes climate change seriously.

Unfortunately many people, even those who in other areas of their lives consider themselves green, are happy to ignore the climate impact of their weekly non-organic shopping, and continue to buy the 'cheapest' possible food available at the check-outs, regardless of the environmental and social costs that we all end up paying eventually.

The Soil Association believes it is possible for most of us to shop and cook organically without compromising on quality. It might require some creativity and life-style changes, but these changes have the potential to leave both you and the planet healthier and happier. So use the following tips to stay healthy, ethical and green whilst saving money.

  • Sign-up to an organic box scheme. Get local, seasonal and organic fruit and veg delivered straight to your doorstep, and get excellent value for money while you're at it.
  • Cook fresh fruit and veg from scratch. Avoiding over packaged convenience foods is usually both healthier and cheaper. Try our Grown in Britain cookbook which has a comprehensive guide to seasonal British produce
    - Buy Grown in Britain from our shop
  • Eat less but better dairy and meat. Choose organic or grass fed red meat and opt for proportionately less white meat. Try lower cost cuts such as belly of pork or neck of lamb. Offal too can provide tasty nutritious meals. Get friendly with your local butcher for advice on cuts.
  • Cook in bulk. Make meals in larger batches, use herbs and spices, and cheaper ingredients like tinned tomatoes or beans and pulses to bulk things out, and then freeze left over portions. This is a great way making less into more.
  • Join or create an organic buying group. Bulk-buy your store cupboard staples with a group of friends at wholesale prices. We're working to encourage more buying groups around the country and have produced a guide to getting started
    - Setting up an organic buying group
  • Join or start your own local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme in partnership with a local farmer. CSA is a partnership between farmers and the public where you make an annual investment for a share of the harvest and can prove great value for money 
    - Community supported agriculture
  • Grow your own, for the freshest, most local food you can get, right on your doorstep - and free
    Organic growing advice
  • Keep your own chickens and enjoy a great house pet and super fresh eggs every day. You can learn more about chicken keeping, and range of other courses on growing and cooking, through a Soil Association Organic Farm School course, supported by the Daylesford Foundation 
    - Organic farm school
  • Write a shopping list. As a nation we we throw away 6.7 million tonnes of food every year. By planning meals in advance, buying what you need and not what you 'fancy', and using left-overs you should be able avoid the need to throw away any food at all, and save up to £50 a month
    - Tips on using up leftovers
  • Become a Soil Association member and get saving! Organic Connect is our directory of offers and discounts exclusively for Soil Association members. Bringing our members closer to organic producers and independent shops it includes super-savings that can make a real difference to your shopping bills.