I thought since I do so much griping about organic shaming, and the cost of certain organic food, I would take a moment to talk about some ways I've learned to deal with this problem. First, non- toxic, organic cleaning products are way more expensive than their toxic counterparts. I won't use those toxic cleaners, so I learned to make my own cleaners out of vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap. I sprinkle baking soda on my carpet to deodorize, and I feel like my apartment is fresh, clean, and odor free. And I know that my kitties aren't breathing in all that fake flower scent and gagging. I also use baking soda to wash my hair, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. And no, my hair doesn't smell like vinegar, I promise. I use coconut oil as a moisturizer, (raw,unrefined) and sometimes a little in my hair if it feels dry.(very rarely) I usually buy Spectrum's brand of oil, and I believe the jar is $7.49, or 99, or somewhere around there, and it lasts forever! And my skin has never felt better, even in the brutal winter, same thing with my hair, it's never felt healthier.
As far as food, I cannot recommend bulk bins enough. Especially for spices, you will gag at the cost differences. I think bottled spices are one of the biggest rip offs in history. I spent like .75 cents once on crushed red pepper, and it filled up my whole empty jar, which had cost over four dollars. Also, bulk bins are great for dried fruits, seeds and nuts, nutritional yeast, and even various flours, and oats. And of course the all important rice, and beans. And bulk bins afford you the luxury of trying a small amount of something, which for me anyway is important, cause I can't always afford to experiment. And at the Co-op in my town, all of the bulk bin items are organic, and often cheaper than non organic at a regular grocery. Sometimes the more mainstream groceries really mark up any type of trendy, specialty foods that I almost think they are playing a joke. I go to the Co-op maybe once a month to stock up on bulk bin items, and I save so much money and I get such a better variety than at conventional stores.
As far as produce, I try to go by the dirty dozen, and so if I can't afford say organic strawberries, I don't eat strawberries that week. I find that organic carrots, kale, romaine, and spinach are reasonable, and not much more expensive than non-organic. I've also noticed that some stores such as Wegmen's sometimes offers certain organic items at the same price as non organic, like for instance they often have organic pineapple for $2.99 which is the same as non-organic. Aldi's also has started offering more organic, and they have amazing deals, especially on organic frozen berries, they are cheaper than conventional at other stores.
For me, since I need variety in my diet, I like salty, spicy flavors, and I feel like I can achieve that just with bulk bins. I can afford spices that normally I wouldn't be able to. I think that one of the keys to eating like a prince on a pauper's budget is being able to get creative in the kitchen, and finding excellent vegan cookbooks at the library is a big huge help also.
When I buy non organic produce, I use vinegar to wash off the funk. There are of course organic fruit and vegetable washes they sell, but the price is ridic, in my opinion. Vinegar is actually the best thing to use to remove pesticides, from everything I've read, so I feel pretty confident.
Buying from bulk bins and reusing old jars for you're spices, grains, etc., and making you're own 'poo, and cleaning supplies is also naturally being kind to mama earth. My recycling has gone down, and I didn't even have to try.
And the most important thing I've learned when you are super broke is lentils are your best friend. One bag of lentils, a carrot, onion, and some garlic will keep you full for a week. I am saying this from more experience than I care to admit to.
These suggestions are based on my current situation of no farmer's market, no Trader Joe's (so, so, so SAD) and limited availability of specialty vegan items. I have learned these things through frustration, and lots of comparing, and keeping track of who is cheapest, which kind of becomes an obsession when you one of the "poors".