More and more people are becoming interested in eating locally grown, organic produce. The problem can be affording such food. While it is better for you and the environment, the price tag is not better for your wallet. Rather than shopping at your local organic store or shopping the overpriced organic section in your local grocery store, consider working directly with a local organic farmer.
Local farmers may offer several discounts that can help you shave the price off your produce, and you will eliminate what you would have had to pay the middleman. Consider the following strategies:
- Pick your own. If you can pick your own produce, you will often get it at a much lower price. We recently picked organic strawberries. The price was $4.49 per pound for already picked, but only $2.99 for u-pick. Of course, you are trading the discount in price for your time; in our case, we made a family outing out of it, so we had fun and saved money. Still, it took me an hour to pick 7 pounds of strawberries.
- See if there is a discount for bulk purchases. If you agree to buy a certain quantity, many farmers will offer you a discount. In our case, the farmer offered a 5% discount on strawberries if you bought more than 24 pounds, a 10% discount if you bought more than 40 pounds, and a 20% discount if you bought more than 56 pounds. If you don’t know what you would do with that much produce, consider freezing some for the winter months when organic fruit at the grocery store gets even pricier or turning some of it into jam. You could can it, or if that is too much work, you could freeze the jam. Or, find a family member or neighbor to split some of the produce with you. You both benefit from the discount and have access to organic fruits more cheaply than you could buy them in the store.
- Inquire about seconds. Many people don’t want to buy the fruit that is bruised or unattractive. When we picked our strawberries, we already knew that we wanted to turn some into jam. I had spoken with the farmer before our visit, and she suggested buying seconds, which are the strawberries that aren’t pretty enough to be sold as already picked berries. The berries were unattractive, and I had to cut away some bad spots, but I got the berries that were seconds for only .99 a pound, and they made some tasty jam. Others use this strategy when buying apples for homemade applesauce. As the farmer I worked with said, “You only need the pretty ones for pies.”
If you are looking to buy more organic fruits this year, don’t feel that you must limit your purchases to those at grocery stores. Work directly with an organic farmer and consider buying in bulk to lower your price and stock your freezer. You will have the health benefits, not to mention the financial perks, of buying organic, locally grown fruits as well as supporting a local farmer.
(Photo: angelocesare )