Eating fresh organic produce may be more affordable than you might think…here are a few tips on how to eat well and not break the bank!
Eat in Season:
The freshest items will be in season. For example during the summer months eating in season in the Midwest usually means eating fresh berries, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, fresh lettuces, peppers, corn and so on. Find out what grows seasonally in your area. Eating in season will save you big! Ever notice how strawberries in January are uddles of mola – hello, they have been flown all the way from Chile! So not only did they get picked early, but they have also gone on a very long journey. By the time they get to your house they have been off the vine so long that they are almost void of any nutrients. Don’t waste your money on these far away expensive items.
Eating in season in your own region will not only be beneficial for your body, as the items you are eating are being picked near by, which means they are ripening on the vine versus ripening on the way to their destination. Produce grown locally has a higher nutritional profile and density versus the produce that was picked early and shipped 3,000 miles to your nearest market.
When you shop at the farmers markets in your area not only are you supporting the local economy and your local farmer but you are going to save big as you are getting your food directly from its source which is cutting out the profits of the middle man.
Find a local CSA (community supported agriculture) in your neighborhood and get fresh produce shares each week. Go to Local Harvest and find a farm CSA near you.
Sourcing your meats, eggs and milk locally can also help you save big! Many CSA’s will also have egg, meat and honey shares that can be adding in with your veggie share. Or you can find a local farm and order 1/4 of a grass fed cow or get a weekly egg share. Not only will this be more affordable but you can know where your meat is being sourced from and know your farmer. This allows you to ensure its quality. Where as when shopping at the store you have no idea where that meat came from. Even if you can’t afford all organic, that is ok. But choose farmers who are practicing sustainable and humane farming. Check out Eat Wild to find farms near you and Real Milk.
Join a Co-op:
Another way to get quality organic food is to order directly from the source. Order all your regularly used pantry items from your local co-op. I am not talking about the co-op grocery store. I am talking about a not-for-profit group who orders directly from the same companies that your local organic foods grocery store is ordering from. This will allow you to order your pantry items in bulk and save big! Email Azure Standards or United Foods and ask for a list of local co-op groups near you. They will send you a list of all the local co-op leaders and their contact info. If a co-op is not in your area they can help walk you through the process of setting one up.
So how does it work? Each month the individuals in the group will place their own personal orders by the deadline date, all the orders will be placed together and everything will come on a large semi-truck on the scheduled delivery day. Co-op members are responsible for taking turns showing up to help unload and sort the truck. Members will come and pick up their orders. It is that simple! Grocery shop from your own home and show up at one place to get everything you ordered. Easy!
Join my Milwaukee Organic Co-op here.
Grow Food not Lawns:
Even the smallest backyard or patio can be just enough space to grow enough food in pots for one family. Growing a garden can not only be fun for both you and the kids but also a very rewarding experience. Do you live in a apartment with no patio space? Check out your local community gardens and sign up to rent a garden plot. In Milwaukee you can get garden plots for as little as $40 a year! Now that is cheap! Here are a few resources to get you started.
Many cities even allow you to have up to 2 egg laying chickens! How fun for the kids to be able to learn how to not only grow their own food but care for egg laying chickens. Grow food not lawns.
Volunteer at a local farm:
Many farms have work share programs. In exchange for your work you will get a free share of food each week. Check and see what local farms are offering work shares. Even volunteering a few hours a week is a great personal or family activity and learning experience, and if you get uddles of free food in exchange, well woo hoo!
Store your Food for Winter:
Stock up during the seasonal summer months when things are affordable at the farmers markets or your garden is exploding with growth. Summer is a great time to store, can, and freeze your extra veggies and fruit for the long winter. This will help you save big! Remember how much fresh strawberries cost in the winter? Stock up on strawberries in the summer and freeze them for winter smoothies, muffins, pancakes and so on. Yum yum!