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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Buying Locally

Despite growing a lot of vegetables and herbs as well as living in a rural area we simply cannot produce all the food we eat. We are very fortunate to live in an area where I can buy a fair amount of locally produced foods directly from farmers, orchards and roadside stands. This includes beef, pork, eggs, fruits, vegetables We also take advantage of local hunting through friends and fishing ourselves. Why do I stress buying locally?

Buying locally ensures you get the freshest produce often shortly after picking or in some cases you can pick your own. The produce is at its peak when purchased in season so always tastes better. Both fruits and vegetables begin losing nutrients as soon as they are picked. Ideally for canning or freezing you want to have as short of a time frame between picking and processing. When you buy locally you get to know who is growing your food. You get to know the animal husbandry practices as well as their field management and produce growing practices. Buying locally keeps local farmers in business creating a stronger community. Did you know the average food travels 1,500 miles from farmer to your table? Buying locally greatly reduces this distance quite often to well under 10 miles. Talk about an effective way to reduce your carbon footprint while saving money on food! Finally buying locally is in my experience always less expensive than buying in the grocery store. So if you want to save money on your food bill, buy locally produced fruits and vegetables.

My Purchases

Imagine my disappointment when the closest orchard/farm stand closed up shop last winter. This is a place I frequented two or three times a week! It is normal for some of these types of markets to close over the winter but this one had always remained open. The reason for the closure was mis-management by the new owners of the business end. As produce came into season it looked more and more like this farm market would not be re-opening. Resigning myself to that fact I set about finding a weekly farm market, a traveling weekly farm stand and an amazing organic farm market. All of them are local within about 30 to 40 minutes drive, not the best solution but better than nothing.

A week ago Monday I was reading through the paper last week when I noticed an ad. The former owners of the farm market had re-opened the market under their own management. The still owned the land, orchard and buildings so rather than let the community down by keeping the market closed and despite being well beyond retirement age, they opened it back up under their old business name. I excited called them to thank them for opening back up and told them I would be there that afternoon. Suddenly a day that really was making a valid attempt at being very much annoying took on a whole new meaning. I finished what I was doing in the kitchen, quickly changed and grabbing by eco-friendly cloth shopping bags headed out the door.

It was like greeting a long lost friend when I walked through the door. We chatted for awhile then I set about choosing what I wanted. I bought 10 lb cooking onions, 10 lb Spanish onion, 10 lb L-star apples, 3 nice looking field tomatoes, a quart of peaches and a quart of grapes. The total cost was $16.50, definitely under grocery store prices and oh so much fresher. The L-stars had been picked that morning! The price was a bit higher because of the smaller quantities I bought as well as the apples just starting. The prices will drop within a week or so as larger quantities become available. I noticed the potatoes were $12.95 for a 50 lb bag so at 26¢ per pound is a good deal but she assured me the price would be going down to my familiar $7.95 which works out to 16¢ per pound, a better deal. All of the variety of apples they grow will quite inexpensive as will the squashes and other root vegetables. Spanish onions will likely be down to their normal $3.95 for 20 lb. I have to tell you I am a very happy camper!


2 food lovers commented:

Rachel said...

In our area it seems more expensive to buy local produce. Our local farmers market is much more expensive than the supermarket, which is a great shame.

Garden Gnome said...

That's a real shame Rachel. I know we are very lucky to be able to get produce so inexpensively. Last year we stopped at a farmer's market in the GTA area. They actually wanted $9 for the same size pumpkin I can get for $1 and they wanted $5 for a small pie pumpkin where I can buy those 3/$1. Location really does matter. The plus side for local produce though even if it is slightly more in the grocey store is freshness. Still our local produce is always cheaper than in the grocery stores.