Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Freedom from the Grocery Store!

1. Purchase your meat and dairy locally. 
The best tasting meat and dairy comes from animals who are pastured, treated humanely, and given real food to eat. This meat and dairy not only taste's better but it is truly better for your body. After all, you eat what your meat eats.   If you are going to eat meat and you are going to consume dairy then consume the real deal. A highlight of our family's year is visiting the local farms where we purchase our beef, turkey, and chicken for the year.  Buying our meat at the farms has given us something else, in addition to the healthier meat. It has given us a respect and gratitude for the animals that we eat. The hamburger on our plate is not just a blob of stuff on a Styrofoam plastic wrapped tray that we are to eagerly consume, it was a cow and we are grateful for the meal which nourishes us. You can visit EAT WILD to find meat and dairy (eggs, cheese, milk, etc) farm near you.

2. Purchase your vegetables from local farms or join a CSA
 A CSA, Community Supported Agriculture Program, is a fantastic way to get out of the grocery store and shake things up in your kitchen. You buy a "share" of a farm at the start of the growing season along with a handful of other consumers. The pay off is a bushel of fresh vegetables,herbs, and fruits each week during the entire growing season, for us May-November. Although CSA's work in many different ways, in most you actually pick up your produce on a scheduled day out at the farm, shaking hands with the farmer and all. Many CSA's  encourage participants to help in the garden and do not mind one bit if the kids come along for learning opportunities. The CSA costs upfront and pays off with the freshest produce you can get aside from growing your own. It is local. It is seasonal. It will no doubt introduce new vegetables into your world, which kids are often excited about experimenting with.  There is a shared risk in this investment as you only receive what the farm can produce, weather pending. This shared risk, however, manages to bring a group of people together and there can be a sense of camaraderie in the CSA experience. Our CSA hosts a harvest supper, bringing the entire CSA together during the fall harvest to feast together~ my grocery store never did that. 

 3. Join a Natural Food Co-Op
A natural food buying club or co-op can be a great way to save money on your budget and bring fantastic food into your home. Although each buying club may function slightly differently the general idea is a group of organized people pooling together to purchase food from a distributor. Food can be purchased through online catalogs and ordered monthly. A truck delivers the food on a specific monthly date and the group participates together in unloading the truck. In our co-op each family unloads the truck twice a year. Our family has found that purchasing our legumes and grains in bulk through our natural food co-op is the absolute best bang for our buck.  I enjoy looking through the catalog, taking my time, and making informed purchases regarding our food. This helps me tremendously with our grocery budget and meal planning. Click here to find a natural food co-op near you, or to learn how to start one. 

4. Get to know your local Health Food Store
If your community has a natural health food store you can pick up sundry items that you may have previously purchased from a grocery store. They are almost always the healthier choice and a simple visit to your natural food store turn into a great learning experience. Ask questions of the staff and check out the bulletin board for news on farms, sales, and markets. If you are a frugalista then take your coupons as many of these stores accept coupons for their products!
Tip~ I mark down the price of our favorite items form the natural food store and then try to find them cheaper either through our co-op or online.

5. Visit the Farmer's Market
In our community there is a farmer's market every Saturday, Wednesday and Thursday! We even have a special holiday farmer's market to encourage local meat and produce on your Thanksgiving table. Besides a great outing a trip to the farmer's market can fill your basket with fresh, fun, delicious food such as vegetables, fruit, herbs, pies, pastries, jams, cheese, meats, eggs, breads, and more! Go with a budget and a plan, but leave a little wiggle room for that one item that you did not expect to buy~ like purple carrots or rhubarb pie.

6. Order Online
I made a list of our families favorite foods, those must-haves that my husband and children really enjoy.  These are things that I can not buy at the farm/farmer's market but still choose to provide to my family. Here is an example~ Panda Puff's cereal. Hey, it makes my family happy! I have found through a little work that I can purchase this cereal online through Amazon cheaper than I can through my health food store. I purchase it in bulk to reduce constant shipping (free through Amazon's subscribe program) and doing so helps me stay in budget each month.  I also purchase items such as organic unrefined coconut oil, Shea butter, and bulk tea online through fantastic online natural resources for such items.

We are going to talk about this again in the future and really show you how to getting out of the grocery store can help your budget be more consistent, put healthier food on your table, and help heal the environment for the coming generations.

It can be daunting to think about all of this, I know!

Try and think simple. Find where food comes from in your community and start there~ even if it is just for a couple of things. As Mommas you know  baby steps may look small, but they are phenomenal to behold and they turn into strides in the blink of an eye.  It is the same with each step you take to get out of the grocery aisle and onto the land.

By the way~ we have a give away going!! Have you entered for a chance to win a free year subscription to Plan to Eat??


pastorwick said...

I believe it's healthy. I believe it's good for the environment, and local economies. I believe it's an overall good thing...although I'd hesitate to put the ambiguous "better than" stamp on the whole thing.

But better for my wallet? :)

My wallet disagrees. But it's a sacrifice worth making so far, it would seem...and not as expensive as previously thought.

Ethiopianmomma said...

I would absolutely stamp a "better than" onto permanent marker on my forehead probably. It is better. And, when your wife and I are not busy doing this or that I will work on a post to back that up for you. It is also better for your wallet, it just takes some time. One BIG argument is that it is way cheaper in the long run because the whole foods diet can help bring medical bills down. So, you have to look at it from a different standpoint that just grocery budget per month and see the long run.

pastorwick said...

hehe..perhaps my wallet is too short term. :)

I think the "better than" rub was in the "mindset". It talks down to people who are just finding out about all this, and don't have that mindset yet.

Maybe I'd say "these kinds of choices are better for you"...rather than "this mindset".

But that's just me watching out for toes probably.

Ethiopianmomma said...

Ahh, now THAT makes sense to me.
And, I agree.

Beth said...

Thanks for the ideas.