10 ways to help you save $ on local and organic produce
This post is part of a series from an interview with a local produce stand owner and operator, Mary Beth Pope of Mary Beth’s Sustainable Foods located in South Carolina, selling locally sourced and organic food. Mary Beth has operated a successful local produce stand for over five years but has a lifetime of experience with living sustainable and sourcing locally.
Fresh, local, organically farmed produce is a big part of our healthy living. What goes into our bodies to nourish us is one place we can’t afford to cut corners. But, as a frugal mom living on a budget, I often have a hard time justifying the cost of the foods I purchase. Sometimes it’s a decision between the light bill and better food choices (read When Eating Healthy is too Expensive).
When talking with Mary Beth I asked her if people ever complain about the cost of her produce at the market. “Oh, all the time. Some people don’t have any problem paying $4.00 for one cup of coffee but want to haggle over $3.00 lb for organic heirloom squash. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand the quality of the product I offer and what went into growing it, the cost involved. Growing organically cost more to produce and those cost have to be shared by the consumer”.
For those of us that do get it but struggle with finances, do you have any tips or suggestions you can offer the budget conscious to help save on buying fresh produce?
#1 Tip How to Save on Produce
- Growing as much of your own produce is always the best option if you have the ability.
#2 Tip How to Save on Produce
- Get to know your farmer/local produce stand owner. Farmers/Stands are more likely to offer a deal to someone they know and have a good relationship with.
#3 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) . To find a CSA near you Click Here
#4 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- Buy in Season. Buying what is In Season doesn’t have to travel to reach it’s destination and have less cost involved in making them available to the public, not to mention more sustainable.
#5 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- U-Pick Farms. Enjoying an afternoon at a U-Pick farm will always save you money, you can’t get any fresher than eating right off the bush.
#6 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- Buy bruised, damaged, or ugly produce. Ask a farmer/stand if they have any bruised, damaged, or ugly produce available at a discount. The produce is completely edible and useful, especially for canning, pies, relishes, etc.
#7 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- End of day shopping at Farmers Markets. Many vendors/farmers are willing to offer deals at the end of the day so they don’t have to pack their produce up. Kindly ask the farmers/vendors if they have any end of the day specials.
- Clearing the fields. Many farmers will let you pick the fields at the end of their season for free or pennies on the dollar. You can get an abundance of quality produce this way.
#9 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- Buy in Bulk. Most commercial farmers are not going to get off their tractor and stop working to sell $6.00 worth of tomatoes but would be happy to sell in bulk. Get some friends or neighbors to go in with you on a bulk purchase and split the order as well as the savings, or join a Food Co-op.
#10 Tip Tip How to Save on Produce
- Offer to barter/work. Everyone needs something. If you have a service to offer or can provide labor, ask if they would be willing to barter. Farmers always need a helping hand. Produce stands may need help with deliveries, packaging, advertising, etc.
To learn more about the difference between fresh, local, organic produce and store-bought produce, read Why Tomatoes aren’t Tomatoes Anymore