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Although shoppers have generally accepted that eating organic foods will be more costly, a recent and rapid rise in prices may force some consumers to alter their eating habits.

Food prices have been rising for several months now, and at first, organic prices stayed steady. But organic foods are catching up - and then some. A gallon of organic milk, for example, is now nearing $7.

College sophomore and president of FarmEcology, Maura Goldstein says she has not changed her buying habits when it comes to organic foods - which are produced without pesticides and chemical fertilizers - but eating out organically has become a concern.

"I try to cook at home more since rising food prices are magnified when you eat out," she wrote in an e-mail.

High prices are likely to affect many, as 39 percent of the U.S. population consumes some form of organic food, according to the Organic Trade Association.

For Penn students, there hasn't been a large rise in prices at local stores thus far.

Fresh Grocer spokesman Jeff Beaky said the grocery store has not yet seen a significant change in prices of organic foods in comparison to inorganic foods.

"Prices for everything went up, so if you compare it to some other products, customers don't necessarily notice too much," Beaky said.

He added that the store hasn't seen a large shift in consumer buying habits of organic food.

Nonetheless, the nationwide trend is clear.

Like other products, organic foods have become more expensive due to the rising price of gas, which makes shipping and transporting foods more costly.

Those who still want organic foods but are worried about prices can buy locally, Goldstein said.

Although the food sold at local farmers' markets may not be USDA-certified as organic, most foods there are grown without chemicals, Goldstein said.

"Local is important - and sometimes better and cheaper," she said.

Buying organic foods selectively may also be helpful to those worried about their budgets.

Focusing on certain foods that absorb chemicals easily, such as peaches, strawberries and lettuce, can maximize shoppers' organic dollars.

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