Go Organic On A Budget – Part 9
There are countless reasons to eat organic food. It is the best choice for your health and the health of the environment. So why doesn’t everyone go organic? There is a higher cost associated with organic food. It costs more to produce food naturally and that cost is passed on to the consumer. There are, however, some things that you can do to make the switch to organic less costly.
There are four basic things you can do to go organic for less money: grow what you can, spend your food dollars wisely, make most of your food from scratch and don’t waste anything. Each article in this series will address one specific change you can make in each of the four areas.
Grow What You Can
Organic basil is a great option for a backyard garden. Not only do you get a delicious herb with endless culinary possibilities, but basil is also a great natural pest deterrent.
A packet of organic basil seeds costs about the same as two ounces of mature basil. You can get several pounds out of each packet. Instead of dedicating a specific spot in your garden to basil production, plant the seeds throughout the garden. I put two basil seeds at the base of each bushy plant, such as tomatoes or peppers. The strong scent of the basil masks the smell of the other plants. Insects that are normally attracted to the garden can’t smell the plant they desire and are likely to move on to your neighbor’s garden instead.
Spend Your Food Dollars Wisely
When buying organic vegetables, go for the ones that pack the most nutrients and antioxidants. Focus on leafy green vegetables and herbs, and supplement with colorful fruits and vegetables. Purple cauliflower and potatoes tend to cost as much as their white counterparts, yet they contain high levels of anthocyanins (a powerful antioxidant found only in purple foods.)
Make Your Food From Scratch
Pesto is one of those gourmet items that will cost you quite a bit if you buy it prepared from the market, especially if you want it to be organic. Making your own organic Pesto is quick and easy, if you have a food processor. If you grow your own basil, this sauce can be made for a very reasonable price.
Take 1/3 cup of the nuts of your choice and put them in your food processor work bowl fitted with the multipurpose blade. Pine nuts are the norm, but you could substitute a cheaper nut such as pistachios. Pulse until well chopped. Add two cloves of garlic, pulse until chopped. Add two cups of fresh basil leaves. Pulse until chopped. Turn the food processor to “on” and slowly drizzle 1/3 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil through the feed chute. Add 1/2 cup of a grated hard cheese, such as Parmesan or Romano. Pulse until combined.
Don’t Waste Anything
Most recipes that call for basil utilize only the leaves. The stems are often thrown away even though they have a considerable amount of flavor just waiting to be extracted.
I like to make basil tea. I take the stems and steep them in hot water for two minutes along with a little lemon zest. I strain the tea, then add a little bit of lemon juice and honey. Basil tea is great hot or iced.