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How to Save Money with Locally Grown Food

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Continuing from last week’s article: How to Save Money at Farmers’ Markets, below are other advantages of Street Markets.

I do not normally bring my camera to farmers’ markets. However, when we go on vacation, oneLocally Grown Food of our priorities is to search out street markets in the area.  Every area of the world sells different foods.  There is no better way to know what it REALLY tastes like than to get locally grown produce at street markets!  During a vacation that we took to Hawaii the summer of 2014, I had my camera with me.

  • By the way, using my combination techniques, I saved enough money to pay for about 85% of that 10-day vacation.  I also paid for all of my granddaughter’s food and I gave her $200 in cash for souvenirs.  All of that was accomplished by using all of my combination techniques.  I provide a copy of just two gift cards I earned as well as an invoice for a one-day car rental showing that I reduced the cost from $119.50 to just $8.17 in What Are Combination Techniques?  We had a rental car for the entire 10-days; however, the one-day rental was just one of the techniques that I used to increase my savings.

People are becoming more interested in healthy meals and fruits & veggies; however, the high prices of produce prohibits many from including as much produce as they’d like.  That’s where locally grown foods come in again. They are becoming popular for more reasons:

  1. Health is beginning to outweigh convenience: 9 Vegetables that Help Lower Sugar in the Morning, How to Get More Veggies Into Your Diet in 6 Simple Steps, and The Ultimate List of Stress Relieving Foods.
  2. Some ingredients on labels are actually toxic: How to Spot Preservatives on a Label and How to Read a Dog Food Label
  3. Healthier choices: Farmers Markets as a Strategy to Improve Access to Healthy Food for Low-Income Families and Communities
  4. Better tasting choices: Fresh Herbs – Fruit & Veggies Month
  5. Environmental concerns: Solutions to Environmental Problems
  6. Support of local communities: Measuring the Impact of Public Markets and Farmers Markets on Local Economies
  7. Better prices: Buy Local

What’s in it For You?

Locally Grown FoodsAs mentioned last week, produce tastes better when it is fresh off the vine.  Produce at street markets is not only better tasting, but the prices are also great!  As people gravitate toward farmers’ markets, supermarkets are beginning to offer better sales to move their produce.  Several weeks ago, for the first time, I saw a 4-day special (which is actually a “loss leader”) to entice their customers to return specifically for their produce.

The catch is in order to do that, they increase the price of other items throughout their stores. That is why it is so important to know the unit price of items you regularly buy.  Therefore, I created a Price Book.  It took a little time to set it up the first time; however, now I just copy the worksheet and change the date.  All the calculations copy over to the next worksheet.  I use my price book by highlighting the foods that I will need for the week.

Using my Price Book, I only spend 10-15 minutes/week preparing for shopping trips for the next week’s menu.  The amount of money that I save by knowing the regular prices is truly significant.  I now can tell you, instantly, if an item is on sale or just appears to be on sale.  That is why it only takes me 10-15 minutes to prepare.

Sometimes my schedule is so crazy it prevents me from going to both supermarkets and farmers’ markets.  Those times, since I already know when their sales will run for produce, I know which store to go to because I also know the non-perishable items that will be on sale. Additionally, by knowing when the sales will repeat, I can plan on stocking up on those items. If meats will be on sale, I simply freeze them until I need them later in the month.  Supermarkets rotate their sales every 12-15 weeks.  Rather than repeating all of the instructions to create a Price Book, please check out Step #1 in my 10-Step Supermarket Combination Technique: THE Most Important Save $$ Tool: Know the Prices!

Some Farmers’ Market Safety Facts and Tips

It is important to know if a farmers’ market is safe, how to purchase the safest food items, and how to safely handle them.  That also applies to all food items that you purchase at grocery stores and supermarkets.

Study after study shows the importance of including fruits and veggies into your everyday diet. It is also important to know how to handle produce so it lasts longer.  That increases the money you save.

Before you buy anything, below are just 3 questions that are in a Canadian Interior Health brochure titled: Safe Food Tips for Farmers’ Markets. There are many more questions in the brochure.  If you answer is ‘no’ to any of these questions (as well as the ones in the brochure), then find another market or produce stand.

  1. Are the stalls, booths, and tables that offer produce clean?
  2. If the produce is in an open area, is it protected from birds, insect infestation, rodents, or other critters?
  3. Are the food items off the ground and out of direct sunlight?

You need to know what pesticides are on foods that you purchase so you can mitigate poisons that you ingest. One good resource is: “What’s On My Food

Anyone who sells any type of food items (produce, honey, jams & jellies, soup mixes, etc.) has to sign a contract and meet a set of criteria.  Therefore, even though this guide is aimed more at vendors, the last page of the report focuses on consumers: Guide for Vendors, Market Managers, and Consumers.

Proper Food Handling & Storage

What you do when you get the produce home is equally as important as where you get it from.  Below are some tips to help you learn the proper way to store foods to safely extend the life of those foods.

I conducted extensive research when I wrote: 10 Step Supermarket Combination Technique. The section on how to Minimize Food Waste is the reason I mention that in this article.  Not only is where you get food important; but proper food storage and how long you can safely use the foods are equally important.  Therefore, I researched ways to save money when I purchased them:

  • Because of the info I learned in Types of Foods, I now write the date on egg cartons and bags of food so that I stay within the safety window.
  • According to FoodSafety.gov, you should only store eggs in the shell between 3-5 weeks. Check out their chart about how long to keep eggs in various forms (raw, hard boiled, etc.).
  • The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service provides an excellent educational website all about eggs: Shell Eggs from Farm to Table.  It includes how often a hen lays eggs, how salmonella infects eggs, bringing eggs home from the store, and more.
  • Store your food properly to avoid tossing it in the trash. Check out the info in my article: Keep Foods Fresh Longer.

Locally Grown Foods

As detailed in the FoodSafety.gov brochure titled: Steps to Safe and Healthy Fruits and Vegetables, avoid potential contamination by 3 simple steps:

  1. Purchase only produce that is not bruised or damaged (most people do that anyway);
  2. When you buy pre-cut produce, make sure  those items are stored in a refrigerated container and each item is surrounded by ice.  Also, wash them before using them.  Studies have shown rodent feces on pre-cut produce! and
  3. As your produce is bagged before leaving the store or farmers’ market, make sure that fruits & veggies are not bagged with meat, poultry, or seafood items.

Related Articles:

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