Thursday, April 30, 2009

Purchasing Locally Grown Produce

As many of you know, we signed up for a half share of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to supplement the vegetables that we will be harvesting out of our garden. We will be getting a weekly delivery of in season vegetables, right to our door. Not knowing how our first year gardening in Florida will result, I figured it was a good idea to supplement our efforts with the CSA. I have paid $15 a week for our weekly half share, which will continue for the next thirteen weeks and will be delivered on Thursdays.

In addition to the weekly CSA delivery and our garden, we are still going to the farmer’s market each week to see what the farmer’s have in stock. I am finding my weekly farmer’s market trip to be very relaxing and educating. I talk with the local farmers, find out about their produce, and learn a bit about what grows well locally. I have met a wonderful organic seedling farmer (who gave me a “new” type of tomato to try last Saturday) who is very knowledgeable and has beautiful herb, vegetable, and flower seedlings. She is one of many local farmers who are interested in getting to know the people who are purchasing their goods and to share their philosophies, background, and little tips to boot.

To cover all my bases, last week I also signed up for a local “buying club.” This buying club is for organically grown local veggies. I paid $10 to become a member for the year and will be able to purchase in season vegetables each Saturday as I need them. This farmer has a website that will list the weekly offerings and prices, so I will know ahead of time what is available for pickup each Saturday. My friend and I both had trouble finding his farm last week, so he has generously offered to specially pick strawberries for us this week, which are no longer part of his weekly offering.

Because my CSA delivery is on Thursday, and I can check on my buying club offerings at any time, I will know before Saturday’s farmer’s market what I will need to round off our fruits and vegetables for the week, hopefully allowing me to frugally buy locally grown, in season produce each week.

I feel that it is important to support local farmers and local businesses. Buying locally grown and produced goods help reduce the need for transportation of such goods. Take for instance a bunch of collard greens. Buying locally grown collard greens eliminates the need for fossil fuels to be used to transport collard greens thousands of miles from another country, or even from another part of this country. Buying locally also helps the local economy. If my dollar is going to the local farmer, that farmer is then able to spend the dollar at a local restaurant or to purchase clothing from a local retail shop, keeping the money circulating in the local economy.

I know that we won’t be able to purchase all of our produce locally, but we are sure going to do our best. I have decreased our purchasing of produce such as bananas (which for some reason don’t seem to be grown in abundance locally) and avocados (from Mexico). I try to stock up, in particular, when I see locally grown fruits. For instance, I’ll be getting three pounds of strawberries from the buying club this weekend. I’m sure the kids will eat quite a few, but I plan to freeze a good portion of them for use throughout the summer. When our garden’s vegetables are ready, I’ll be canning and freezing them so they too can be used throughout the year, rather than buying the same item later in the year from another country.

I’m looking forward to the challenge of buying locally, or if necessary, at least produce grown in the USA. I’m going to start having the kids look at the labels on fruit and vegetables at the grocery store and talk to them about where our food is coming from and see what they have to say. I’m betting that they will choose to buy local goods rather than those from another country, and may even choose to walk right on past the grapes from Chile.

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