Yesterday, I talked about the first six ways to save money on buying produce: buying in season, growing your own, picking your own, preserving, shopping produce markets and shopping the loss-leaders. Here are a few more ideas on how to cut your produce bill.
:: Shop farmer’s markets and roadside stands for organic quality produce. If you’re looking to incorporate more organic produce into your family’s menu, shopping farmer’s markets is one of the best ways to keep the cost down. Many small farmers don’t want to spend the money to get their farms certified as organic, but they employ organic farming practices. Just ask the vendor if their food is pesticide-free.
And don’t just pass by those roadside produce stands. The strawberry huts on the Eastside of Portland have the most delicious and affordable fruit around — all grown in the owner’s backyard.
:: Join a CSA. CSAs (community supported agriculture) are “a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit” (source). You buy a “share” in the farm up-front, usually in the winter or early spring, and receive a portion of the bounty every week throughout the growing season. Like buying a portion of beef, this is a large wad of cash to pay out all at once, so it is probably smart to save throughout the year.
CSAs usually open in the winter and fill up quickly, especially in the Northwest. There may be some farms still accepting partners. Check out Local Harvest for CSAs in your area and our post, The Truth About CSA’s.
:: Check out delivery services. This is a great option for those of you looking to buy organic and don’t want to drive around getting it yourself. Check out Organics to You (Portland area), spud! (Portland & Seattle) or Azure Standard (everywhere). I’m sure there are other delivery services out there.
You can also find local buying clubs/groups that band together to get a discount on produce and other “real” food direct from distributors and farmers. Search craigslist or google it. If you are apart of a buying group that is currently accepting members, please leave a comment!
:: Ask for discounts. If you’re planning to purchase a large quantity from a store or farmer, ask for a volume discount. New Seasons offers a case discount on fruit (maybe 10%?). Chances are the more product you are willing to buy, the larger the discount. You could go one step further and form an informal buying group with people from your church, child’s school, or neighborhood and really negotiate the savings.
:: Make sure you have the time and supplies to deal with what you buy or grow. There’s nothing worse than not having the time to deal with the boxes of peaches you just picked and letting them rot. Set aside the money for correctly preserving the produce you have (free Ziploc containers or cheap pectin, anyone?). Stock up on canning supplies at garage sales, or swipe your parent’s unused stash (not speaking from experience or anything…), wash out used Ziploc bags, and stash them away.
How do you save money on produce? Leave a comment!
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