(Pennywise Platter Thursday is tomorrow!).
It can be hard to find frugal choices for vegetables. Today I wanted to share my own experiences shopping for local vegetables frugally.I will also be featuring a wonderful local farm stand, Thompson Farms., who uses organic practices and has wonderful prices. But I would also love for you all to share your local sources too! It could very well be helpful to other readers.
( Pictured above is my organic cinderella pumpkin that I got at Thompson for only 15 cents a pound, an incredible deal. It only cost two dollars for this large pumpkin! I will roast it to use in many recipes. They also have pie pumpkins-also pictured above- for only a dollar each, and carving pumpkins for 15 cents a pound as well. If any locals haven’t gotten their pumpkins yet, go here! The following photos were also taken at Thompson. )
But first, why should we care about buying our veggies locally?
I personally think that it’s very important to support our local businesses and farms as much as possible. It’s just common sense wisdom to support the farm land near you. We are, after all, dependent on food for life, and having sources close buy growing food is important.
It also makes nutritional sense. Vegetables are one of those items you want to get as fresh as possible. Some vegetables, especially greens can rapidly lose nutritional value. If your bagged spinach is 8 days old, for example, it will have already lost half of it’s vitamin B6. If you get it the day it’s picked, you know how fresh it is. But when you buy it at any grocery store, you have no idea how old it is and it might have already lost a significant amount of vitamin B6 and other nutrients. The best way to really get fresh produce is to buy it directly from the farmer. I also love it when it translates into a more frugal choice for me too. More nutritious and more frugal? I’ll take it.
Everyone will have different resources and farmers in their area. This has been my experience.
Around here we have many farmer’s markets. The markets in downtown cater to the hippie, small family, organic or else crowd, the prices are reasonable-but you don’t expect to save much money over a normal grocery store for vegetables and a lot more for meat and eggs. The benefits are that you can find everything you want-grassfed beef, artisan cheeses, pastured eggs, and a lot of organic vegetables. These are farther away for us, but I have made the drive down to stock up for a week. For around the same price for most vegetables, I get much higher quality and have a much larger variety to choose from.
The markets in the suburbs near us often have much cheaper prices, but they also don’t have as many organic choices. I asked a few farmers there if they used pesticides (as many farmers don’t use much at all), and they got uncomfortable and answered that they did indeed. However, there are adequate choices to make some good, frugal finds that are organic, or close to organic.
Nearer to our house, I also have access to a produce market. Last year I got amazing deals on organic and local produce there. This year…not so much. Just goes to show that your resources aren’t constant.
However, a constant source of good produce at good, often very good, prices is Thompson Farms. They are located nearby in Gresham and I’ve been making a weekly drive to get my vegetables from their stand. The summer was wonderful. I was getting cucumbers three for a dollar as well as zucchini, along with tomatoes and other delicious veggies. Right now I am getting red and green cabbage (.50 cents a pound), their salad greens (2 full bread bags for 2.50 each), the sweet cauliflower and broccoli (.99 cents a pound), their squash (.79 cents a pound), their pumpkins,( .15 cents a pound) and their apples (.99 cents a pound for most varieties). I also get kale and collard greens, beets and potatoes! In fact, I’ve been buying the vast majority of my vegetables here, and only filling in the gaps from New Seasons Market (my absolutely favorite store-who happen to encourage their shoppers to buy directly from farmers). I should also mentioned that I pick berries in their fields during the summer. I also call for updates and find out when they have a big overload of fruit or vegetables and are selling them at even cheaper prices. This has saved us a ton of money.
The cold weather is upon us the growing season is coming to a end in our area, but Thompson will be open all the way through December. I will be sure to continue to shop there until they close for the Winter.
One last option I’ve tried is CSA’s, or shares in farms. My experience has been so-so. Sometimes you can save a lot of money doing it this way, other times, when I’ve priced it out, I realized that I could have bought organic vegetables for the same price or cheaper from New Seasons. The advantages are that you are really supporting a local farmer, you are forced to get creative with your veggies, and they can be wonderful deals during the peak of the growing season. Disadvantages are that you have to take whatever they give and you may not save money if you don’t have a generous farmer or they don’t have a good growing year.
Don’t think that just because it’s fall, there aren’t any local sources for produce! Check around, you may be surprised.
Now, how about you? What tips and local resources have you found? What was your experience this growing season?