Whole Foods Lifestyle - buying produce locally




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flatiron
03-27-2009, 04:08 PM
I have really tried to buy all my produce from my local Farm market. I like supporting all the small businesses in my area. I have learned a lot from hanging out and making friends with all the people at my local Farm market but after 3 months of going there twice a week to by what is in season now and I know it was winter when I started and will get better as it warms up more but you know I just have to admit it....

Even though the big chain grocery store buys from out of the country and has to ship thousands of miles their stuff is just better! The fruit and vegetables are just bigger, fresher and CHEAPER!

I feel bad because i WANT to by from my local farmers but I am paying twice as much for apples that are twice as small!

I feel guilty too because of this economy the Farm Market by me is hurting for money.

I WANT to buy from them and SUPPORT them but their food just can't compare in quality and price to the giant chains.

Anyone else try and buy locally?


mandalinn82
03-27-2009, 04:20 PM
I try to go as close to 100% local as I can. I buy my produce from a smaller-scale produce stand that doesn't have all local or all organic, but is a local business for me to support that gets local produce whenever possible (basically, if it is in season here, what they are selling is local. If it is not in season here, they purchase from other areas. I try to use in-season produce most of the time, but struggle a bit during winter, so I like that both are available) I also like their business model, which is aimed toward waste reduction (they have giant dehydrators in the back, take all of the produce that is nearing it's use-by date, and then sell really cheap dried fruit..no waste, which helps them keep prices for both the fresh AND the dehydrated produce low)

The farmer's market here is ridiculously overpriced...so much so that I found that joining a CSA was really the more cost effective option. The tradeoff, of course, is that you don't get to decide what you're eating. This is a blessing and a curse...you have to figure out to do with darned beets, but it will guaranteed make you a more innovative, in-season cook. You can see if you have one near you at www.localharvest.org.

sunflowergirl68
03-27-2009, 04:30 PM
They're bigger because they're genetically altered. I don't know where you live, but I live in a more rural area (urban and rural, it's weird), and our local farmer's market is really cheap. Cheaper than the grocery store sometimes. I think it really depends on the area, if it's more of a farm area, or if it's more suburban.


BlueToBlue
03-27-2009, 10:38 PM
With only a few exceptions (bananas and mangos), I buy all of my produce from my local farmers' market. Some of the farmers come from a ways away, but no one is coming from out of state. It's all a matter of how you define "local." I do sometimes feel guilty buying from the farmers that are from southern CA, but I figure it's still better than buying produce grown in another country.

I'm surprised that the produce you get from your big box grocery is better than the locally grown produce. The produce sold at my farmers' market is hands down, 100% better than the produce sold at my grocery store. The stuff at my grocery store is practically tasteless. Almost all the produce sold at big box grocery stores is picked before it is ripe and then "ripened" with ethelyne gas. The produce I get from my farmers' market ripens on the plant and I can taste the difference.

I'd also point out that bigger isn't always better when it comes to produce. There is a stand at one of the farmers' markets I go to that sells tiny apples--only 2 or 3 oz each. I like my apples small. If I'm hungry, I can always eat two, but it's hard just to eat half an apple. And, usually with produce like that, you pay by the lb, not by the fruit, so smaller doesn't necessarily mean more expensive.

In terms of cost, there are three farmers' markets that are convenient for me to go to. The one that I go to most frequently is the most expensive one. It's a "destination" market, so they have a lot of vendors. They have more variety in produce and they sell a lot of things beyond just produce--fish, cheese, eggs, Indian food, pickles, tortillas, grass-fed beef and other meats, smoked salmon, etc., so it's worth it for me. But the prices also depend on the vendor and what you are buying. Sometimes different vendors will be selling the same products at very different prices. Some of the produce is significantly cheaper than what I would be paying at the grocery store (usually the stuff that is in season, herbs, Asian greens). Other stuff, like raspberries, is more expensive but the raspberries sold at my grocery store are inedible whereas the ones from the farmers' market are like nectar from the Gods. I figure I'm getting what I pay for with the berries.

flatiron
03-28-2009, 01:02 AM
I also like their business model, which is aimed toward waste reduction (they have giant dehydrators in the back, take all of the produce that is nearing it's use-by date, and then sell really cheap dried fruit..no waste, which helps them keep prices for both the fresh AND the dehydrated produce low)


Thats a great idea the dehydrators. I am going to run it by Bev (the manager at my local Farmer's Market). I love dried apples and dried pineapple. I know they don't have money right now for equipment but maybe they can have a fund raising event for it.

My local Farm Market is kinda high too but I think they have to be or they wouldn't make any money because they don't have a third of the traffic even one large grocery store down here has.

I don't even mind paying a little extra for the produce if it was better but it is not. I just had to throw some apples out today that were just aweful. The wax they wiped on it was so thick (I guess to protect it from bruising they tell me) and the wax was dirty and kinda stunk, I just couldn't eat them.

I will continue to support them because I like the people who run it and I like keeping my money local. But the big Harris Teeter which is kind of a Gourmet grocery store just has such a great produce section but I KNOW all the food is coming from Mexico and South America.

I have never eaten as much whole food (I call it elemental food! LOL) since I started eating healthy last year but I am going to continue.

And Amanda I would know what to do with those beets my friend who owns a B&B up in the Blueridge Mountain showed me what to do with them. You cut them up in 1 inch cube and roast them in the oven for 30 minutes with olive oil drizzled on them and parmasean cheese sprinkled on top! YUMMM!!! LOL! I love beets now!

But I definitely learned one thing NOT to do with beets and that is don't cut them up on a nice brand new wooden cutboard like I did because all the red juice soaks all in and now my nice brand new cutboard looks like I slaughtered a pig on it! LOL! :D

flatiron
03-28-2009, 01:12 AM
They're bigger because they're genetically altered.

I don't know where you live,


Yeah I know I bought oranges today that were the freakin size of grapefruit! And when you peel it the skin comes off so easy. And I'd like to report they were tasteless but they weren't they were mighty tasty!

I live in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia (Va Beach/Norfolk/Chseapaeake) and i live near the downtown area of Norfolk so it is definitely a small city surrounded by SPRAWLING suburbia out of control.

There used to be farms around in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach but I think they are pretty much gone. The produce comes from the more rural areas of Virginia.

There are a LOT of big grocery stores in my area.

And of course Walmarts all over the place. I have noticed a LOT of people now shop for food at Wally World. I for one will not shop in one. I won't fault anyone who does but it is just a personal choice for me.

kaplods
03-28-2009, 03:40 AM
I believe genetically altered produce or meats need to have a label stating so. Most produce has not been genetically altered - rather selective breeding has been used. The seeds are kept from the fruits of trees producing the largest (or sweetest)fruits, over successive generations. Sometimes fruits are cross polinated (such as pluots - a cross between a plum and apricot). Nectarines are not plum/peach hybrids as often thought, but are rather a mutant skinless peach (the mutation was natural), as was the "saturn" or donut peach, a peach that is flat rather than round.

Regular old selective breeding is to blame (a process that humans have been doing for about 10,000 years or so).

CyndiM
03-28-2009, 07:58 AM
I know everyone's time is limited but it is incredibly easy to dry your own foods, especially apples. It's not expensive to get started either.

flatiron
03-28-2009, 10:44 AM
I know everyone's time is limited but it is incredibly easy to dry your own foods, especially apples. It's not expensive to get started either.

I am going to suggest it to the manager of the local Farm Market near me it sounds like and great idea to reduce waste.

I have no idea how one would go about drying foods. Is it the same process for making jerky?

Do you need a special dehydrator or can you do it in your oven?

When I was in Iceland I saw people drying fish on racks outside in the sun. Tasted pretty good to me, sorta like fish jerky! LOL! But it smelled pretty bad when you did it and I think my neighbors would not be to pleased with me if I did this.

I seem to remember a few years ago you could buy a food dehydrator from an infomercial like from RonCo (same people that made the VegeMatic) on TV.

If I wanted to start doing this what would I need to start that would be the cheapest.

Could you dry in an oven? Seems like to me it might cost a lot (electricity) doing it in your oven.


I'm going to go Goggle dehydrating food right now! :carrot:

Windchime
03-28-2009, 11:50 AM
If I were to only buy at the farmer's market, I would be completely produce-free much of the year. Our farmer's market still hasn't yet started up this spring; it's way too cold for anything here to be planted, so there is no local produce to be had. I think ours might stay open for 4 or 5 months out of the year; by the end of October, it's gone again. Also, I think it's only running 2 days a week when it IS open, but I'm not sure about that.

Our local supermarkets do a good job of stocking local produce when they can. I try to always buy locally grown; they'll put a sign on that says "sweet corn from Quincy" or "Walla Walla sweets". Obviously with tree fruit (apples, cherries, pears, etc) it's all local since I live in the middle of an area that grows all that.

srmb60
03-28-2009, 12:26 PM
I joined a locavore group from my area on Facebook. It's like networking. I didn't know that I could buy local grains but another member did. I also found a source for heirloom vegetables seeds through another member.

Have you all read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver? I really enjoyed it and it gives tips on extending local produce use for a longer portion of the year.

nelie
03-28-2009, 12:46 PM
kaplods - all produce is labelled to identify it as genetically modified. If the leading number is an 8, then it is genetically modified. If the leading numer is a 9, then its organic. Otherwise its neither. Of course if you go to farmers markets, you'd have to ask them specifically because they don't use the PLU codes.

For me, I do try to eat locally except all our farmers markets aren't open yet. April is when the first farmers markets open. We decided to not go with a CSA this year because the CSA last year was very fruit heavy. We do plan to support local farmers markets though.

JulieJ08
03-28-2009, 02:06 PM
I joined a locavore group from my area on Facebook. It's like networking. I didn't know that I could buy local grains but another member did. I also found a source for heirloom vegetables seeds through another member.

I never thought of something like that! Nice idea.

WaterRat
03-31-2009, 01:01 AM
If I were to only buy at the farmer's market, I would be completely produce-free much of the year. Our farmer's market still hasn't yet started up this spring; it's way too cold for anything here to be planted, so there is no local produce to be had.

Yup, me too. :lol: I do buy locally in the summer, and even more locally, my DH grows a lovely garden so I have lot of stuff that I know exactly where it came from. We freeze what we can. I wish you could freeze lettuce. :)

In the winter when I have to buy stuff - esp this time of year when my frozen stock is down - I look for US grown....

learningtoliveagain
03-31-2009, 05:47 AM
I just started buying locally (about a month ago) and I made a list of the items I bought at the grocery chain store and found most items a lot lower in price. For an example I bought a spaghetti squash in Walmart that was 1.78 a pound and at the local market it was only .89 a pound. And OMG the tomatoes are huge, tasty and about .30 a pound cheaper. Maybe it's due to being in Florida, even though I can't wait to move out of this hot, sweaty, bug infested state. Anyway I have to watch every penny so if they were higher I'd have to go else where, even though I'd like to support my local businessman.

chilenita815
04-30-2009, 06:30 PM
I buy Locally, and I spend almost the same amount of money as I used to when I shopped in the food chains.... I buy all organic, I now grow my own organic veges and herbs, I am in an Apt, so I am limited but I do grow, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley, Mint, Rosemary, Eggplant, Zuchinni, Cuccumber, strawberries and 4 different Heirloom tomatoes....I will be incorporating more heirlooms :)
its easy and effortless..... I made my own DIY topsy turvy due to my limited space, I made 2 of them, and they house my tomatoes and strawberries, and I planted some of the herbs on the top.... and I have a Herb box I built for the rest of my veges .
I am not a gardener, and I can honestly say it is quite easy to grow for the non experienced :)

I for one am still learning :)

Mariela

Windchime
04-30-2009, 07:12 PM
They're bigger because they're genetically altered. I don't know where you live, but I live in a more rural area (urban and rural, it's weird), and our local farmer's market is really cheap. Cheaper than the grocery store sometimes. I think it really depends on the area, if it's more of a farm area, or if it's more suburban.


Larger fruit isn't necessarily genetically altered. i packed apples and pears for several years (I live in rural Washington), and it's quite normal for many different sizes of fruit to come from the same tree. Much of the time, the size of the fruit depends on how well the tree was thinned and what the weather was like as it was growing. I'm not saying genetic altering never happens, but don't automatically assume that a large apple is genetically altered and a smaller one isn't. Chances are good that they came from the very same tree if they're packed in the same box.

newleaf123
04-30-2009, 10:04 PM
During the growing season, I buy almost all of my fruits and vegetables from the 2 local farms near me. When I finally go back into the supermarket in November, I am amazed by how colorful, large and perfect all the vegetables appear.

But the thing is, it really grosses me out. Everything looks so overabundant and unnatural. The potatoes don't have a single eye on them and are enormous, for example. The cucumbers are enormous and shiny. etc. From a vegetable / fruit standpoint, summer can't roll around fast enough for me.

Misti in Seattle
05-24-2009, 11:38 AM
Interesting... around here produce from the farmer's market is much less expensive than in the stores... and of course much better.

Flatiron, I understand you can dehydrate foods in the oven; however a dehyrdator is a wonderful kitchen appliance to have and they are not expensive. I love grapes dried on it and also fresh pineapple.

mayness
05-25-2009, 02:31 PM
This is a challenge for me, too... I'm so jealous of all of you who have farmer's markets that are cheaper than the supermarkets. I've NEVER seen anything cheaper at the farmer's market. Meats are 4 to 5 times as much, and most produce is roughly double.

As nice as the local organic asparagus looked last week, I wasn't about to spend 6.99/lb for it, when I can get decent-looking asparagus from the grocery store for 2.99/lb if I really wanted it. I buy potatoes there because I don't use them fast enough to need a whole bag from the store, so paying $1.25/lb for the "seconds" is worth it. And sometimes I'll buy a tiny bag of spinach, or a bunch of kale that's mostly stems, for $2.50... because it does feel good to support the local farmers... but when money is tight there's no way I can buy local.

(I should add that I haven't lived here in June and July before, so I've only seen the early and late stuff, maybe it gets affordable somewhere in the middle.)

kaplods
05-25-2009, 05:54 PM
Our farmers' market definitely is cheapest in the middle of the season. Also, if you know each vegetables peak seasons (or ask), you'll find the prices are cheapest at the peak (but that's generally true in the grocery store too). So if you want the first or last picking, you may pay more than at peak. Also, it pays to browse all of the stalls before buying. Stalls nearest the parking often price their produce higher than stalls at the far end. There are of course exceptions, as our favorite vendor has the first stall, but her prices are great, and when she recognizes you as a regular customer, she throws in all sorts of free stuff. It pays to be very friendly - and memorable to the vendors in some way (if you think your appearance or personality may be kind of ordinary, wear a big hat or find some way to stand out, so you're easily recongnizeable as a regular customer).

In our farmers' market, the asian vendors often sell much cheaper than the other vendors - also, they're much more open to haggling. I've seen some of the Hmong ladies haggle, and they are very skilled at it. I'm not, but hubby is - the secret is not to insult their produce or product when suggesting a lower price. If you're hesitant to ask for a lower price, you can ask if the vendor is willing to give a discount for multiple purchases. The worst they can say is no.

In general, all the vendors are more open to price negotiation at the end of the day (though there's less selection) or if there's bad weather. I actually love going to the farmers' market when it's raining (as long as it's not a downpour), because the vendors are more willing to lower prices to sell faster and be able to go home earlier.

If you're living in an urban or trendy area, it can pay to look for farmers' markets off the beaten path. In our city, the downtown farmers' market is the "trendiest," and caters to tourist as well as local business. Their prices are higher and the produce not as nice (maybe it starts out as nice, but is picked over faster). However only a mile or two away, the farmers' market is much cheaper. We've heard that the farmers' market the town over (about a 20 minute drive) is even cheaper, so this year we'll be checking it out.

CyndiM
05-25-2009, 06:07 PM
Mayness - I grew up in Central NY and my folks still live there. In the summer there are little produce stands everywhere and many are very inexpensive. They may not be organic, but that's often because small growers can't afford organic standards. However they often don't over-spray and you get to support local people. My mom and I did go to a Farmer's Market in Hamilton and some of it was a little pricey though not outrageous.

We often talk about the price tag vs. the real price of things. Remember that most of that cheap big box produce is picked before it's ready, loaded with pesticides and genetically modified so overall it's nutrition content is almost always less. It's also shipped thousands of miles so the cost in greenhouse gas is very high. I know it's hard to manage on a budget though. We make the best choices we can and I dehydrate and freeze as much of the produce we love as I can when it's cheap in the summer.

festivus
05-26-2009, 06:43 PM
I just signed up for a local CSA program, it comes out to only 16 bucks a week and runs from June to October! There are over 50 local farms that participate in my area!

I'm pretty excited.

mandalinn82
05-26-2009, 06:52 PM
Yeah! I think that CSAs are one of the least-utilized food delivery systems...a pity, because they're usually way less expensive than grocery store or farmers market produce, but are still local and delicious...AND you support small farms to boot!

festivus
05-26-2009, 08:15 PM
Yeah! I think that CSAs are one of the least-utilized food delivery systems...a pity, because they're usually way less expensive than grocery store or farmers market produce, but are still local and delicious...AND you support small farms to boot!

Thanks for posting that link! Great timing, I start next week!

mayness
05-27-2009, 10:27 AM
I'm still considering a CSA... the one that looks best around here works out to about $25 a week but you get some choice in what things you take... I was hoping they'd start coming to the farmer's market so I could see the quality of their stuff, but every week they show up at their huge corner booth with a pile of pamphlets about their CSA and no produce. :p Oh well, it doesn't start until June 13, I'll give it a few weeks... I just can't see dropping $500 without seeing SOME of the products.

Mayness - I grew up in Central NY and my folks still live there. In the summer there are little produce stands everywhere and many are very inexpensive. They may not be organic, but that's often because small growers can't afford organic standards. However they often don't over-spray and you get to support local people. My mom and I did go to a Farmer's Market in Hamilton and some of it was a little pricey though not outrageous.

I see a lot of them along the way when I drive to Rochester to visit friends/family, but here in Ithaca I've never noticed one. I could drive to nearby towns and look around for them, but that doesn't seem worth the gas/pollution. Living here has changed my sense of distance, anything that takes more than 5-10 minutes to drive to or can't be reached by bus doesn't seem worth it anymore. :) It might be a fun adventure though, so thanks for the idea!

zaarjunkie
06-04-2009, 05:46 PM
I participated in a CSA last year and really enjoyed it. I was anticipating some travel this summer so did not sign up this year, but I've been going to farmer's markets when I can. The prices are just about the same as grocery stores, if not, just a bit more, it really depends on the vendor. I really enjoy u-pick farms as well. This is where I stock up on fruits to make jams/pies/etc. They're inexpensive and a fun date. :) We are also lucky here in that we have access to free range and organic eggs.