I just answered a similar question on another forum, so I'm just going to copy and paste what I said there. Please forgive me if I repeat anything that's already been said.
For produce, our biggest money saver was participating in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Basically, at the beginning of the year, we pledged a certain amount (every CSA is different), which meant that we owned share in the farm. Every other week (we also could have done weekly), we got a box of fresh, in season, organic produce, and it was always in excellent condition. The quality of supermarket produce doesn't even compare to the quality of what came in our box. When we pledged last year, we payed for the whole year up front; it seemed like a ton of money, but when I broke it all down weekly and compared it to what we normally spent on produce, it was much, much cheaper. You can find a local CSA here: www.localharvest.com
I would definitely agree that buying the things that are the scariest in non-organic form is very important. Eggs, dairy, certain fruits and veggies...hmm..what else...I have read that oils and vinegars should be organic. We use a lot of red and white wine vinegar, and I always buy those organic, because grapes are one of the most highly pesticized fruits.
You can find info on the biggies here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/
. Off hand, I can tell you that a few of the most important ones are grapes, strawberries, potatoes, apples, bell peppers, greens, and peaches. Some of the less important ones are bananas, avocadoes, and citrus fruits; apparently they are safer from pesticides because of their thick skins. I also found some info here: http://www.deliciousorganics.com/Con...optobuyorg.htm
Once in a while, I'll buy organic meat. I try to whenever I can, but it's not a regular thing. After I saw this, http://themeatrix.com/
, it really opened my eyes to why it so important. If meat from cloned animals truly becomes a reality
: , you can bet that my family will only be eating organic meat, even if it means that we become borderline vegitarians!
If you do go with just "natural", make sure that you check the ingredients carefully. "Natural" can be stretched pretty far, and there is no goverment regulation for things that say natural, free-range, grain fed, etc. Unfortunately, the only total assurance is organic.
Joining a co-op can save you tons! We have quite a large playgroup, and we do a lot of co-ops with the other families in the group (it's a pretty cruchy AP playgroup!).
One we do is Azure Standard
, which is where I tend to order meats, breads, and some other things. Not everything is cheaper, but a lot of it is. I get Wild Alaskan Salmon for around $6/lb, which I could NEVER find in a store here. And it comes frozen, which is great. You can never freeze wild salmon from the grocery store because it's already been frozen once before. If you can get enough interest in a co-op with others in your area, it's definitely worth it. I think Azure only delivers as far east as Montana, but I'm sure those of you further east can find something similar.
If you do check out the Azure site, be aware that for some reason, when you're not signed in, the prices shown are much higher than when you are signed in. I'm not really sure why that is...
We also do a Frontier
co-op, which is where I get a lot of our dry goods. We use a lot of Burt's Bees in our house (not organic, but still great, mostly natural stuff), and it's 1/2 price through Frontier. We get a lot of other products there too.