Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm Celebrating My Book Launch with a "Local and Organic" Food Challenge!

Today is the official launch of my book, Cheap Appetit: The Complete Guide to Feeding Your Family for Less Than $400 (While Eating Better Than You Ever Thought Possible), and if you purchase a copy today, you'll receive over $1000 in bonus gifts! So you'll not only get tips on slashing your food budget and over 125 family-friendly recipes, you'll have the opportunity to receive some special bonus items on a variety of topics. For complete details on how to receive your free gifts, go here

To celebrate my book's big day, I am issuing myself a "Local and Organic Food Challenge" to see just how much local and organic food I can cram into our less-than-$400-a-month food budget!

Several years back, I had started buying more organic foods, then we ended up having to slash our budget dramatically due to financial circumstances. At that time, I didn't feel like it was possible or practical to purchase organic items on our cut-to-the-bone budget. Now that I've become an expert at how to feed my family for as little as possible, I've started to feel up to the challenge of making yet more changes, and seeing how far I can go in supporting local and/or organic food suppliers without busting my budget!

I have always bought a lot of local food in season - I don't think I've purchased apples, onions, potatoes, carrots or cabbages grown out of province in many years! And we love to support local pick-your-own farms as well. But I'm ready to start exploring more options. For the purpose of this challenge, I'm going to define "local" as in-province, although much of the Ontario-produced food sold around here comes from pretty close by.

As I've gotten ready to take on this challenge and started looking around at different possibilities, I've been surprised that I've already located sources for buying quite a few organic food items at the same price (or even lower) that I was paying for conventionally grown foods. One of the first steps I've taken is to rejoin a food coop that I was a member of several years ago, the Ontario Natural Food Coop (ONFC). Through a local buying group, we can order a wide variety of natural and organic food items at discounted prices (sometimes very deeply discounted compared to what you would pay at the grocery store!). Many of the products are also grown in-province, which is an added bonus.

Basically, I'll be using many of the same strategies that I've always used to keep our food bill low, with slightly different goals in mind:

1. Know your prices: To get the best deals, you need to know your prices well! Because I have a good handle on what we usually pay for each type of food we buy, I am quickly able to spot the potentially good deals as I evaluate new options for buying organic foods.

2. Buy from a variety of sources: There is no single source that will always have the best deal on everything. Even the food coop, which has absolutely fantastic prices on many items, is not the lowest-priced source for everything I want to buy.

3. Buy in bulk: To get the best price possible, you often need to buy in bulk. Sometimes that means buying a pretty crazy amount of a particular item at once! I just ordered 13.6 kg of organic, unsulphured raisins from the food coop, which probably seems a little nuts. Ordering in such a large quantity brought the price per pound down substantially; in fact it's about equivalent to what I would pay for grocery-store raisins!

4. Buy ingredients, not products: I will be able to make my own organic granola for far cheaper than I can buy a prepackaged brand! In fact, since I have found fantastic deals on nearly all of the ingredients, I will be able to make my own organic granola (with mostly locally grown foods) for nearly as cheap as I can make it using conventionally-grown foods.

5. Stockpile, store, and plan: This method of buying food is quite different than the shop-for-this-week's-meals style of grocery shopping that most people are used to. We are certainly not going to eat all those raisins in the next week, or even the next month (they will probably last us about a year). To purchase food in this way, you need to have a plan so you know what foods to buy when, and also be prepared to store large quantities of foods (and to do so in a way that ensures they won't spoil before you use them up!).

All of these concepts, and many more, are thoroughly outlined in my book and I will enjoy taking my food-buying skills to a new level!

Don't forget to go claim your free bonuses if you buy TODAY!

I will be sharing regular updates on how I'm doing with this challenge, so stay tuned to see just how far I can go! And if you happen to have any lines on great food at awesome prices in Southern Ontario, be sure to let me know, okay?


  1. Hi Karen! I just discovered your blog yesterday. I read a comment on Gail Vaz-Oxalde's blog about your book, so I went on Amazon and ordered it! THEN I searched for info on you and found your blog! AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME! Have been reading lots of your previous posts. Can't wait for your book to arrive!!! Julie

  2. Welcome, Julie - I'm so glad you're here! And I hope you enjoy the book :)

  3. We have an organic co-op here in the Seattle area called PCC and I love it for the amazing choices, many of which are local, but also because when I shop there, I know the money stays local as much as possible. It's not like the national chains, where the money gets sent to Ohio or whatever. I've been shopping there for 5 years and love chatting with the clerks and rooting around for new items. It's this vegetarian hippie chick's dream store! They also do a lot of advocacy for organic, sustainable farm practices (including a farmland trust which preserves land for farmers) as well as national and state issues (like the labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms. Do GMO's have to be labeled in Canada, as in Europe? This is one of my big issues that gets me riled up at the moment...Good luck with your newest challenge.

    1. Your coop sounds great! I have heard of many similar types of coops in various parts of the US, but I'm not aware of any like that around here (where there is a physical location you can shop at). ONFC is set up similar to the American coop Azure Standard, where you form a buying club with a bunch of other families, order from a catalogue and they have a set delivery route and schedule. They drop the whole order off at the group coordinator's house then the members have to sort items into individual orders. It can be a bit of a frustrating process at times, but our buying club is a nice little community to be a part of and I always enjoy the social aspect of sorting the order!

      Re: GMOs, nope, they don't have to be labelled here either. Lots of concern about that here in Canada, too but the multinational companies are up to there usual shenanigans.


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