If you are on a budget, you may think you can’t afford to buy local foods direct from the farm or at the farmers’ market, but in fact you’ll pay the same --or even much less—than at the supermarket.
Here are some ways to include local foods in your budget!
Buy in Season – when local vegetables and fruits are ripe and many farmers are selling the same items, prices are likely to be lower than you will find at the supermarket.
Buy in Bulk – You will pay less for a bushel than a pint! Share a bushel among friends, or buy a quantity to can or freeze. It is a good idea to order in advance if you want to buy in bulk.
Pick Your Own - Enjoy a trip to a farm to pick fruits or veggies at their peak flavor! Prices are lower when you do the picking compared to when you buy picked products. Pick extra for freezing or jam-making to enjoy the harvest in wintertime.
Join A CSA – you usually receive 25% product more for your money in a weekly CSA share than if you spent the same amount on products at the store.
Buy Local Organic – prices for organic products at farmers’ markets are generally lower than at supermarkets. A recent Vermont study showed that organic items at farmers’ markets were nearly 40% cheaper than they were at neighboring supermarkets.
Buy Local Meats in Bulk –The most economical way to buy local meats is by the quarter, half or whole animal direct from the farm. Enjoy meats that are naturally raised on pasture often without added hormones or antibiotics. For more information on how to buy local meat, terms, etc. visit: http://meatsuite.com.
Compare Prices - Write down prices of food items you use the most at the supermarket and at your farmers’ market or other local food outlet. We found that cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, and berries were always good values when purchased at a local farmers market compared to grocery stores.
Know Your Food Needs - Save all your grocery receipts for a month, add everything up and make a “master list” of your monthly food purchases. Then you’ll know how many pounds of meat you eat, how many and what type of vegetables and fruits you buy, and other basic ingredients and products you buy. Multiply a month's purchases by 12 and that will tell you how much food you need to buy each year. Then figure out what you can substitute from local farm sources. As time passes, you will go to the supermarket less often. This alone will save you money, as every time you go to the grocery store for just one thing, you end up with a dozen.