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Farmer's Markets on the Cheapby Sustain Lane Staff
Six tips to help you save money by eating seasonally and locally. Working with Mother Nature never tasted better.
Eating organically and locally make for a dynamic dining duo. Add seasonality to the mix, and you’ve got quite the food trifecta. Why do all of these things? Glad you asked.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better and are better in quality than their out-of-season counterparts. And as we learned in Economics 101, when a certain produce item floods the market, it’s going to be cheaper.
In addition to lifting a burden off your pocket book, it will cut down your carbon footprint. Sure, you’ve been keeping track of your vehicle miles traveled, but have you thought about your “food miles?” The average distance local produce travels is just over 50 miles; conventional produce is schlepped an average of 1,500 miles to your grocery store.
An added bonus? Eating locally will boost your area’s economy, and these days, it can probably use all the help it can get.
A one-stop shopping trip to a farmer’s market will keep help you eat organically, locally, and seasonally. So get those canvas bags ready, and head on out. Here are six tips to help guide you through your local market—without breaking the bank.
Six Tips to Help You Save Money by Eating Locally and Seasonally
1.) Identify what you need ahead of time. Think about what you need and what you’ll be eating a lot of, and stock up. Just as you shouldn’t go to the supermarket hungry, don’t leave for the farmer’s market without a list. An added caveat: don’t leave with a grumble in your tummy either. Farmer’s markets are epicurean delights—freshly popped kettle corn looks mighty appealing when you’re hungry, but impulse buys hit your wallet hard, so resist the urge to deviate from your shopping list.
2.) Assess your storage space. If you have the space, stock up on staples, like potatoes and squash. If you keep them in a cool, dry place, they’ll keep until spring. Give canning a go! It’s a great way to preserve fruits and vegetables at the peak of flavor. If you’re short on space, try dehydrating the produce you buy. Dried fruit veggie chips make easy-to-pack, healthy snacks. Think about what you need and what you’ll be eating a lot of, and buy in bulk.
3.) Shop early or late in the market. The early bird gets the worm, but the late bird gets the deal. Shopping early will get you the best quality produce and the best selection. However, as the market nears closing, vendors will want to unload the day’s unsold produce, giving you the chance to score bargains.
4.) Shop around. It’s a good idea to take a lap around your market to find the best prices. Take note of where the cheapest items are, and you may find that there’s enough money in your budget for that kettle corn after all.
5.) Glean advice from the grower. Ask the vendors what produce will do well for storage, canning, and dehydrating. They’ll also give you tips on how to prepare what they’re selling. Market vendors are incredibly friendly, so flash them a smile and start talking!
6.) Give it the ol’ college try. Try new recipes. Use conventional ingredients unconventionally. Have you pureed cauliflower into a soup, roasted turnips, or steamed butternut squash? Your next favorite dish or fall-back recipe awaits you at the farmer’s market. Opening your mind to the season’s bounty is the best way to ensure you stick to a seasonal and local diet.
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