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Organic peppers

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When I hit the farmers market, I want to buy everything. The produce looks so good and so fresh. I tend to leave with more cherries, berries, green beans and tomatoes than my small household can reasonably consume. I prefer to buy local, and try to buy organic whenever possible.

Given a choice, the majority of shoppers also opt to purchase organic foods, according to a recent Thomson Reuters-NPR Health Poll conducted in the U.S.

Fifty-eight per cent of those polled said they choose organic over conventionally produced foods when they can. Among those who buy organic foods, 36 per cent said they do so to support local markets and 34 per cent said they want to avoid exposure to toxins in non-organic foods.

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Paul Monger, CEO of Clancy's Meat Co., says his store is constantly developing their selection of organic and preservative-free products due to an increased demand by customers. Mr. Monger acknowledges there can be a significant price increase for such foods and the markup on proteins is higher than produce. A whole chicken, for example, is $8.48 a kilogram. For organic, it's $10.98 a kilogram.

All organic products found at Clancy's Meat Co. are frozen and packaged goods. Mr. Clancy says that is one way families save. His customers stock up on frozen organic products when there is a sale.

Before you shop, look for coupons and information on upcoming deals at company websites or directly through the stores where you regularly shop. Sites and apps for coupons can be overwhelming, but at the very least, sign up for the mailing list of the shops you frequent. Social media buying sites, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, also help you hone in on organic product deals.

Price differences for organic and non-organic produce are sometimes small. Organic bananas at my grocery store, for example, are only 10 cents more per pound.

Certain organic items aren't worth the price, however, according to The Environmental Working Group. This non-profit organization has come up with a list of fruits and vegetables, dubbed "the dirty dozen," that contain the highest amounts of pesticides and should be bought organic when possible. Apples, celery, peaches and strawberries top the list. You can print out a wallet-sized list or download the list to your phone here. They've also compiled a list of "cleaner" fruits and veggies you don't need to buy organic.

Joy Bauer, nutrition and health editor for Today, says if you can't afford to opt for organic with the dirty dozen then lose the skin before consuming, lay low on these items, or mix them in with other fruits and vegetables that don't appear on the list. Eating items in-season is another way to save money on produce. Kraft Canada provides a simple chart that shows what's in season, every season. There are also free apps available, such as Locavore that will pull up local farms and farmers markets in your area based on your phone's GPS location. The site currently only supports Ontario and B.C. markets.

Opting for organic depends on your preferences and your spending plan. If it's a priority to shop organic, then using all available resources to save helps ease the extra costs.

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