As I see it, there are four places to get produce.....
1) Grow Your Own
2) Grocery Stores
3) Farmers Markets
4) Roadside Stands
Of course, I grow my own when I can, it's the only way to guarantee the produce I'm getting is both fresh and organic. And I'm here to encourage you to do the same. But when you have to buy off season and do splurge on organic...how many times have you read about a listeria or E.coli outbreak from organically grown produce from the store? Ewww.
Here's a sampling of what I pay for organic versus non-organic at the local grocery store.
Non-Organic Price Organic Price
raspberries 6oz. $2.99 raspberries 6 oz. $3.49
cantaloupe $2.99 cantaloupe $3.99
strawberries 16oz. $2.99 strawberries 16 oz. $3.99
blueberries 10 oz. $3.99 blueberries 11 oz. $5.99
total: $12.96 total: $17.46
Organic is costly, so typically, I don't buy organic during the winter months. This is yet another reason why growing my own is so valuable to me. Click here for some organic fast facts.
And no one likes chemicals. But I can empathize with the local farmer who uses them. After all, bugs and other pests can decimate their crops. Pesticides help protect their investment, their livelihood. But when I grow my own, a few bug nibbles in my lettuce leaves or holes in my tomatoes doesn't bother me all that much.
When you do shop at farmers markets, if not already displayed, ask the farmer if they have any 2nds or 3rds for sale at a discounted price. They may have a few spots or be of a irregular shape or color; but have the same taste and nutrient value at the firsts. They are not rotted or bad, just a little different. [Kind of like me!] While the premium produce is proudly showcased at eye level, 2nds or 3rds might be hiding underneath the display table, or still loaded on their truck. Ask. Ask. Ask.
Here's just a few benefits.....
- The produce is typically dirt cheap - I'm talking about 25-50 cents for a pepper, cucumber or zucchini and yes, even 50 cents for a cantaloupe or honeydew. Wow!
- It's likely organically grown and chemical-free if you're buying from just your average gardener who's just selling their surplus
- If you don't know whether it's organic, you can always ask!
- It's incredibly fresh - I buy potatoes at a stand that were picked an hour prior...caked in dirt of course! [I wouldn't have it any other way]
- Taste. You can't even imagine how fresh and natural these potatoes are
- Many times, they have a plastic bags handy and a money jar, it's self-serve and easy
- No long checkout lines at the grocery store lit under florescent lights
- You can always take turns with friends and neighbors stocking up on produce and sharing the plenty. When they take their run; they'll return the favor.
How important is where your food comes from to you? Do you always buy organic?