How To Shop For Organic Food Without Breaking The Family Budget
We’ve found ways to stretch your organic-buying buck—simply follow the tips we’ve laid out below
Organic food in the Philippines is slowly catching on—with growing demand for organics and increasing organic production feeding off each other in a virtuous cycle.
There are 7,586 organic farms on 39,466 hectares of land under organic management in the Philippines. They cater to a niche but growing market, with more organic products finding their way to major local supermarkets, albeit at a price premium of 20-50% over non-organic products.
Unfortunately, the health-related advantages of eating organic food are often outweighed by their higher cost. Because they avoid chemical pesticides and other industrial farming techniques, organic food is more labor-intensive, with slower growth and techniques like crop rotation resulting in a lower yield per hectare.
Organic certification also costs farmers upward of P150,000 per crop, which is passed on to buyers.
Given that higher cost is unavoidable for organic food, going shopping can be a struggle for moms trying to balance health and affordability. Luckily, we’ve found ways to stretch your organic-buying bucks—simply follow the tips we’ve laid out below, and you’ll find that buying organic food can be cheaper than you ever dared believe!
Focus your organic purchases
You don’t have to go all-organic in your grocery shopping. To maximize the bang-for-the-buck of your organic purchases, do your research on foods in the Philippines that often receive high levels of pesticides, then look for their organic equivalents.
You can also explore specialty types of organic produce, which some organic farms love to cultivate. The Teraoka Family Farm, for example, grows heirloom produce types that are all but forgotten by urban Filipinos: local fruits like duhat, balimbing, and santol, along with old-school variants of eggplant and sineguelas.
Look for groceries that carry organic food
Local interest in organic food has also led to major supermarket chains carrying organics for their customers. Landmark Grocery offers a dedicated organic section, but these details are rarely advertised broadly. You’ll have to visit your local supermarket yourself and investigate on your own.
Alternatively, you can search for organic specialty stores in your area. For instance, Quezon City has Proudly Green Natural & Organic Shop along Mother Ignacia Avenue, and San Juan has Earth Origins Marketplace. Many of these stores also deliver within Metro Manila.
A growing number of online outlets bridge organic sellers in the provinces with conscientious buyers in the cities; shop at sites like Mad Market and Igorot Fresh Produce to find local organic foods and help out our farmers at the same time!
Buy organics in bulk or on sale
That’s a no-brainer—you’ll get a much better deal on bulk purchases, compared to buying organic foods on an as-need basis. Long-lasting organic foods, like dried beans or rice, should be purchased in bulk.
Watch out for sales or other discounts offered by organic specialty stores, which may help you buy imported or other high-priced items that are usually beyond your budget.
Grow your own organics
If you have space in your apartment or house, growing your own vegetables is the best way to ensure you’re feeding your family with organically-grown, pesticide-free foods that are the way nature intended.
Seed packets at the grocery cost less anywhere between P20 to P100, and can be ordered on Lazada or Shopee if your local supermarket doesn’t carry them. Ampalaya, peanuts, carrots, radish, and lettuce are among some of the more popular choices for home-grown vegetables—do your research on organic growing techniques and soon, you’ll be enjoying an organic feast at home, practically for free.
Look for organic suppliers at your palengke
Next to growing your own, shopping at the palengke is the best way to source fresh organic produce. Finding a dedicated organic seller in your local palengke, though, may be a stretch—you’ll have better luck visiting bigger “bagsakan” like Cubao Farmer’s Market.
As restrictions open up, the organic sellers at Sidcor (in Quezon City), the Bagsakan Farmer's Market, and the weekend markets in Makati may offer you a wider choice of organics. Whether you’re at the palengke or at a weekend market, don’t hesitate from haggling on bulk purchases, or on blemished produce.
Make your own organic dishes
Organic ingredients in hand, it’s easy to make your own organic breads, snack items, juices and sauces in the comfort of your own kitchen! Your kids don’t have to go without their favorite non-organic foods if you can provide them with home-made organic substitutes—not only will you cut down on your grocery budget, you’ll feel more secure about the safety and health benefits of the food your little ones are eating.
Some items you can make at home include trail mix (put together your own mix of nuts, groundnuts, raisins, and organic chocolate); home-baked bread (using organic flour and eggs); and sauces (a great way to stretch organic meat!).
Yes, organic food can be expensive—but buying organic groceries doesn’t have to be a pain in the wallet all the time. By economizing smartly, buying conscientiously and reaching out to lesser-known sources for organic food, you can raise your kids eating healthy, organic meals without going into debt.
• Better Homes & Gardens, How to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden, 2021
• Journal of Rural Medicine, Analysis of Trends of the Types of Pesticide Used, Residues and Related Factors among Farmers in the Largest Vegetable Producing Area in the Philippines, 2010
• Manila Bulletin, Senate Bill to seek lower organic certification costs, 7 February 2019
• Philippines Department of Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Program, 2021
• ResearchGate, The world of organic agriculture: Statistics and future prospects 2003, January 2003
About The Writer
Minnette is an experienced writer in entertainment, celebrity publicity, and social media.
As a freelance writer, her work has been published in Smart Parenting, FHM, Cosmopolitan Philippines, and Preview Magazine; her extensive coverage often centers around showbiz, parenting, and food; and their interesting convergence in between.
A graduate of Ateneo de Manila University and mother to one kid and two cats, Minnette can often be found in the kitchen playing with food.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.