Last week, I wrote an exposé of the real cost of buying local food—and it was unfortunately WAY more than my family can afford. I would hazard to say it’s more than most average American families can afford.
But I still believe in the importance of supporting my local foodshed. The cost of buying all of my food from local producers is high, but I believe the cost of relying solely on the handful of multi-national corporations who control our corporate food supply is equally high—maybe not in upfront dollars and cents, but in the accumulated cost to our choices, our environment and our health.
So, Sustainable Eating Tip No. 5 is still “Eat Local,” but it’s also…
Eat local without going broke.
Luckily, as with most things in real life, eating locally doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. I still believe it’s incredibly important to support my local food producers, and researching what’s available in our area has given me some new ideas on how to do just that.
Here are four real-world suggestions for increasing the amount of food you buy locally—without going broke:
- Do your research. Sometimes a little knowledge is all you need. For example, I found out I can buy milk from a local dairy coop at my regular grocery store, so it will be my preferred brand from now on.
- Choose to buy local products when they’re available at your regular stores. Here in Colorado, local products bear a “Colorado Proud” logo, which makes them easier to spot.
- Shop at your farmer’s market. Pretty obvious, but the more you can patronize your local farmers, the better off we’ll all be. Try to buy your staples there, like onions and potatoes, as well, and not just specialty produce.
- Learn basic preserving techniques. You can actually save a ton of money buying produce at its peak and preserving—canning, freezing, pickling or dehydrating—it yourself.
As I said last week, just by being an educated consumer, I’ve found several products I can afford to buy locally without any major changes to my budget. And this past weekend, I bought 20 pounds of “seconds” organic, local roma tomatoes from my local farm stand (for less than half the price of their regular tomatoes), and canned salsa and tomato sauce to use during the winter.
What can you buy locally without breaking your budget? Take action now and leave a comment below with what you pledge to buy local.
P.S. If you’re looking for more tips on saving money, my free e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Eating Organic On a Budget has nearly two dozen simple, actionable tips to save you money, many of which will apply to eating locally as much as they do eating organically. Just enter your information in the box below to receive your instant download of the book—for FREE!