Consumer Reports: Eat organic on a budget

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Consumer Reports has some easy ways to save on organic food. (WLS)

We all know that opting for organic food can be a healthy choice for us individually as well as for the planet. Organic food can also be more expensive than conventionally produced food. But you don't have to break the bank to eat organic. Consumer Reports has some easy ways to save on organic food.

For nearly 10 years, Brianna Espinoza has cooked almost exclusively with organic produce.

"Chemicals was a big thing, a big concern of mine. And from then on I just started buying organic," she said.

Brianna is especially concerned about her 2-year-old being exposed to the chemicals that are in synthetic pesticides. But buying organic puts a bite in her budget so she clips coupons whenever possible, and there are other ways to save.

"One great money saving tip is to look for store brand organics. For example this organic apple sauce from Whole Foods is about half the price of this name brand organic apple sauce," said Consumer Reports Health & Food Editor Trisha Calvo.

Check prices carefully, organic can sometimes be cheaper. For instance, two pounds of organic hummus at Costco is almost a dollar less than a non-organic brand there.

"If going completely organic is putting too big a dent in your budget, know that for some fruits and vegetables, conventionally grown is comparable in terms of pesticide risk to organic," Calvo said.

One example: avocados. Consumer Reports has previously found non-organic avocados from Mexico, Chile and Peru have a low pesticide risk. The same with conventionally grown U.S. broccoli.

But other produce, like strawberries, have a higher pesticide risk, so buying the pricier organic ones is worth considering. Organic carrots, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and green beans are also worth the extra money.

And do check out frozen organic veggies. Compare their prices to fresh and you could be pleasantly surprised.

Can washing your produce help with pesticide risk? It can't guarantee that you'll get rid of all pesticide residues, though a good scrubbing can get rid of some. Keep in mind, though, some produce absorbs the pesticides and those can't be washed away.

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