I can’t tell you how many people I overhear complaining at the lines of Whole Foods and farmers markets whenever I go grocery shopping. Hoards of people crowd organic produce meccas to select from the most fresh, delicious, and sustainable food on the market, but vehemently complain while doing so.
In fact, whenever farmers markets first popped around my town, I remember a friend of mine sarcastically saying, “Oh, look. Now the hippies are invading our turf.” As a diehard locavore, I remember shooting her a judgmental glance. For years, I have been eating farm-fresh food from a community garden and forgoing most processed foods, and my health and budget has never been in better shape.
I’m not one to lecture or try to get people to adapt to my lifestyle, but assuming that your costs have to go up after switching over to local cuisine is absurd. In fact, going local doesn’t have to break the bank. With a pre-planned budget and a keen eye, you will be able to eat local cuisine without worrying about putting a dent in your pocket book. A change to local food helps support your city’s economy, improves your health, cuts medical and healthcare costs, and connects you directly to the source of your food. Here are three tips on how to go local and stay on a budget while doing so.
Buy Seasonal Produce
It’s summertime and you’re craving watermelon, right? How about peaches? Pineapple? There is a reason your body craves these certain foods during the summer. Evolution has designed you to know these fruits are in season when it’s time. So, what’s so great about seasonal produce? It’s cheap. Because of the abundance the summer season produces, items like watermelons, peaches, pineapples, mangoes, etc. will be at their cheapest, freshest, and most delicious right now. Therefore, whenever you write out your grocery list, make sure the list includes items that are in-season. For a little help, here’s a list of cheap summer fruits you’ll likely at the farmers market.
Buy Less, Shop More
I had a friend who visited the grocery store as little as humanly possible. Whenever I would come over for dinner, I’d often watch her sift through her fridge throwing out spoiled milk, mushy grapes, and anemic-looking carrots. As a person that lives and dies by a budget, I didn’t see milk, grapes, and carrots being thrown into the garbage. I saw cash. Going to the farmers market on a weekly basis and buying only what you know you need for that week will save you from the stress of throwing away food. Yes, I know some of you hate making lists, but it will take a mere five minutes, and you’d be amazed by how much money the endeavor will save you.
Plant Your Own Garden
If shopping at the farmers market is one of the last things you want to do, try cultivating your own small garden in your backyard or in a small planter on the patio. I’m not suggesting you go out and buy a plow and live on a farm. Even planting a tiny bed will surprise you with how much money you save in the long run. Also, the produce and herbs you’ll be devouring will be at the freshest and most flavorful state since you are directly sourcing it. And because seeds are the cheapest form of food on the market, you’ll see those savings hitting your wallet right away. If you’re unsure on how to even begin starting a garden, consult your local sustainable food center, a savvy chef in the area, or check out this informative instruction guide from Iowa State University. Happy gardening!
Susan is a freelance blogger who enjoys writing about automotive and health news, technology, lifestyle and personal finance. She often researches and writes about automobile, property and health insurance, helping consumers find the best online insurance quotes. Susan welcomes comments and questions.