How to eat more organic food during the cost of living crisis |

We often hear how damaging synthetic chemicals are to our health and the environment. But how can we change our eating habits and eat more organic food when the cost seems so high?

Cost and availability were cited as the two biggest barriers to buying more organic food, according to online polling conducted by Organic NZ.

“Start by doing little things like making some food from scratch or preserving and let them snowball,” says Alex Morrissey, a co-founder of the collaborative market garden business, Little Farms NZ.

Like other organic farmers and gardeners Morrissey doesn’t use synthetic chemicals or sprays, but instead uses compost to build layers of rich and fertile soil.

Morrissey says if you are making your own compost and saving seeds you can eat organic almost for free.

Here’s what else the experts suggest.

Prioritise eating nutritious food

Home cooked meals are a good place to start, perhaps focusing on dinner to begin with, says Nicola Galloway, a Nelson-based chef, author of five cookbooks and writer for Stuff’s Your Weekend.

Braden Fastier/Stuff
Prioritise eating nutritious food, suggests author Nicola Galloway. Home cooked meals are a good place to start.

“In this modern busy world we find ourselves in, people can feel that making food from scratch is going to take too much effort,” says Galloway. ”Part of what I’m trying to share with my recipes, including my latest book, is the idea that if you just focus on doing one thing, for example, making yoghurt, it might seem complex to begin with, but then it becomes just part of your rhythms.”

Try making meals plans, or set aside time for bulk cooking.

Eat in season

“At this time of year we’re eating a lot of greens, and what’s really interesting is that’s what our bodies need.” says Morrissey.

“The seasons provide us the food we need for our immunity and other things. That’s why we have citrus in winter and lots and lots of leafy greens. It might be less exciting, but that’s what we eat right now”.

Nicola Galloway/Stuff
Where possible grow some of your own food. Try starting with herbs or a few leafy greens.

Little Farms grows as much as they can on their leased 1/4 acre property and collaborates with other local organic growers to offer seasonal fruit and vegetable boxes.

Complaints about the lack of tomatoes or cucumbers in the boxes during the winter months can stem from a lack of understanding about seasonality, says Morrissey.

Get your hands dirty

Where possible grow some of your own food. Try starting with herbs or a few leafy greens.

You don’t have to own land to start gardening, says Katrina Wolff. A Waikato-based biodynamic ‘soilpreneur’ and compost consultant with Blue Borage, Wolff describes herself as a lifelong rental tenant who has lived in 15 different homes.

“I’ve had so many different gardens. Even if you don’t own the land, you still can give it all the love you want. And there’s so much possible with container gardening,” says Wolff.

Process surplus

Galloway says when there is excess, like at the moment with feijoas, “we prioritise it – we just get down as a family, and process it. The kids help, they don’t have a choice!”

There’s never too much of a good thing when it comes to all the ways to enjoy this seasonal delight, says Nicola Galloway.

When crops are in season and there’s abundance it’s all about preserving it, chopping it up and putting it in the freezer so that at other times you can fill the gaps, says Morrissey.

Grow with others

In the past, quarter-acre sections were designed so that we could grow our food, says Sol Morgan of GroWise Consultancy. As a Nelson-based community garden advocate, Morgan says that with property sizes getting smaller we can look to growing food with others, joining together at a neighbourhood level.

Join a food co-op

Robin Guyton is the founder of the Riverton Organic Food Co-op, which has morphed over the years into a not-for-profit shop, where volunteer staff get discounted produce.

Guyton says the coop started 32 years ago with a notice in the school newsletter and using her garage as a base. Sharing produce kept costs down, reduced food waste and was community building.

“Instead of going to supermarket you meet other people interested in organic food, and you become a community.”

Organic Week, 1-7 May 2023, was week-long celebration of the organic sector, organised by Organic NZ

This content was originally published here.

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