On a recent trip to my local grocery store I made a rather grim discovery. The organic section of the produce aisle, which used to have a decent selection of organic fruits and veggies, has now been downsized to just one small shelf, consisting mainly of pre-packaged organic carrots and spinach. The change didn't happen all at once. I've actually noticed this decline happening slowly over last few months. So I've been a little concerned that the downturn in the economy would mean an end to all things green.

Fortunately, that's not the case. According to a recent poll by Mambo Sprouts Marketing, most consumers are still committed to healthy, natural and organic foods, but they are changing their buying habits to maintain these priorities during the economic recession. The poll surveyed the buying habits of natural and organic product consumers to identify recent changes in organic shopping and eating patterns.

Even with the tight economy, natural and organic consumers remain committed to eating healthy with nine in 10 (87 percent) reporting that they were not willing to give this up. A majority (about 55 percent each) would not forego healthy and eco-activities such as natural and organic products, vitamins and supplements and "green" environmentally friendly products.

Those adjusting their organic buying and eating habits (45 percent of respondents) are frugal shoppers seeking value and ways to purchase organics more economically such as being more selective when buying organics (67 percent), buying organics on sale (65 percent), using more coupons (50 percent), and buying more store brand/private label organics (48 percent).

Respondents see this change in the way they purchase organics as long term. Most will (52 percent) or may (32 percent) continue these new buying habits when the economy improves. The outlook for organic products looks strong, with more than eight in 10 respondents planning to buy the same amount of organics (46 percent) or more (36 percent) when economy improves (1 in 6 were unsure; only 2 percent will buy less).

Store brand/private label organics remain part of the cost saving strategy with nine in 10 (88 percent) buying on a regular (38 percent) or occasional (50 percent) basis. One in four (26 percent) are buying more of these products since the recession started. Grocery staples such as cereal, grains and pasta (80 percent), dairy (72 percent), condiments (61 percent) and household cleaning products (61 percent) displayed the highest store brand/private label category purchasing.

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