Saturday, March 06, 2010

Buying Local

Over the past couple of years, I have made a gradual effort to incorporate organic foods into our lives. We're not all organic, not by a long shot (and never would be, unless Frito Lay starts making organic Doritos, LOL!). But, when possible, I try to buy organic fruits and veggies, if they look like good quality and there isn't a ginormous price difference. I do find that the organic produce I find in my regular grocery store tends to go bad a lot quicker than the conventional stuff. I'm not sure why that is, but I have to be careful not to buy more than we'll use in a week.

I also will buy organic grain products - cereal, rice, oatmeal, etc. - when I find them. As for meat and dairy, a friend tipped me off a while back that, at our local Fred Meyer, when the organic stuff gets close to its sell by date, the price is slashed dramatically. So when I find those beloved "orange tags", I snag them. We end up getting organic milk about half the time (though I do pay full price every week for my daughter to drink organic whole milk), and the occasional pound of ground beef, that way.

I started buying the organic eggs about six months ago - I was buying the cage free ones, anyway, and the organic ones were only about 70 cents more a dozen, so I figured, what the heck? And now, apparently, I can't go back, because a few weeks ago I was at a different grocery store, and they didn't have organic eggs, and I bought regular ones and they were NASTY.

That said, I have never made much effort to buy local food. I've almost always had a vegetable garden of some sort, and I am the occasional farmer's market shopper (mostly during strawberry season). But I never really thought about it much, or made an effort to seek it out. Over the past year that, too, has changed. Last spring, a CSA opened up down the street from my office. I couldn't convince hubby to sign up, but I did take advantage of their farm store, and bought produce from them nearly every week over the summer. This fall, they also started carrying local honey from a farmer in the next town, and I coughed up the $20 to buy a jug of it. I am so glad I did - the difference between that and the Costco honey I've been buying all these years is like night and day!

For the past eight years, I've been driving by a local butcher/smokehouse about a mile from my house. I've seen them at the farmer's market in the past, but always thought they just did bacon and sausage. Then I did a little research and found out that they also sell beef, pork, and buffalo. On Friday, my daughter and I stopped in to check them out. Turns out all the meat is raised about 20 miles from us, and it's hormone-free, mostly antibiotic-free (they give the cows antibiotics when they are first born), and grass fed beef. I was afraid the price would be completely unreasonable, but it turned out that it is the same or less than the grocery store where I usually buy my meat (depending on the cut)! I was so excited. I bought a roast, some pork chops, and 10 pounds of ground beef to try, plus some pepper bacon (which was divine - we had it for breakfast this morning). They threw in some buffalo sausage for free, since I was a first time customer. Can't wait to try that!

So there I go, expanding my horizons again. Now, I would love to find a local source of dairy products and chicken. I can get local eggs, but they're $6 a dozen so I just keep buying the organic ones at the store...


Allen said...

Be sure to check out the cruelty free tofu they have now. Free-range beans grown to the sound of classical music! :p

nikeathena said...

Good for you! We buy all our fruits and veggies from the farmers market when it's that season and we sure did miss the great produce this winter. We've decided to hold off on going totally organic until we have kids since I can't bring myself to justify the price difference. (I bought eggs this weekend and got 24 regular for $3, but the organic was a dozen for $5. Someday I'll have my own chickens and it won't be an issue.) =)