A while back my husband and I made a commitment to ourselves to eat organic foods. Initially we would purchase our organic produce from the local supermarket but that option wasn’t great because it was really expensive and since organic foods were more expensive they were purchased less and therefore not as fresh. We then switched to going to Whole Foods or a local Co-op. Both options presented fresher organic products but they were still not local and the price was still high. We finally decided to cut out the middle man and start looking locally for the same things we were paying an arm and a leg for in the stores.
The first thing we did was join a farm, otherwise known as a. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. The way it works is that you purchase a share in a farm and you get produce directly from that farm throughout the year. We’ve been members of several different CSAs over the years and, much like a share in the stock market, there have been lean years and fat years. This year our CSA went straight through to the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, long after many CSAs had closed for the season. The cost of a CSA varies depending on where you live but ours costs about $35 a week and an average week’s share is well worth that (pictured below). Our current CSA is run by Greener Partners, a local non profit who also does community outreach and gets healthy local foods into the hands of school kids through their Seed to Snack program.
The second thing we did was join a produce buying club in the winter. Our buying club is run through FarmToCity.org Farm to City acts as a distributor for goods from local farms, bakeries, daries and other business. This, for us, picks up when our CSA ends and we get most of our produce from here along with things like maple syrup, eggs, cheese and butter. Orders are placed online and then we pick up our order at the home of someone locally who has volunteered to be a pickup site.
The third thing we did was join a local meat buying club run by a friend. If there are no existing buying clubs around then create one! The minimum purchace price is probably manageable if you can get at least 3 or four families together. We have a small but mighty community and a friend of mine set up a meat buying club with a local farm called Forks Farm. We’ve had an opportunity to go camp at the farm, see the animals, meet the farmers and get a tour. The meat that we get from there is so fresh and it’s by far the best meat I’ve had.
All of these options provide my family with healthy organic food year round and it allows us to keep the costs manageable. You can get more information on buying clubs, CSAs and more, near you, at LocalHarvest.org I’d love to hear your tips for saving money when buying organic and/or local.