Friday, July 02, 2010

25 Tips for Eating Locally on a Budget

On Wednesday, I went to a talk about, "Eating Locally on a Budget," hosted by the Commonwealth Club at the Ferry Building.

The panelists were:

Deborah Madison, Author, Local Flavors, Seasonal Fruit Desserts, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and many more.
Leda Meredith, Author, The Locavore's Handbook, and Ballet and Dinner From Scratch.
Jessica Prentice, Author, Full Moon Feast
Temra Costa, Author, Farmer Jane (Moderator)

I've compiled 25 Tips for Eating Locally on a Budget from their discussion, and hope you'll add your tips in the comments:
  1. Plan your menu around seasonal fruits and veggies.
  2. Every fruit and vegetable has a season. Within that season there is a peak season, which is the cheapest time to buy them.
  3. Can, freeze, pickle, and dry fruits and veggies by yourself, and with others, while they are in season.
  4. Eat the whole vegetable (e.g. beet and the beet greens, chard leaves and stems).
  5. Create purchasing criteria. Prioritize which foods you will be flexible with, and which you will always buy when they are organic and local.
  6. Walk around the farmers' market before you buy anything to compare prices.
  7. Make a list before shopping to prevent impulse buys.
  8. Don't go shopping when you're hungry, to prevent over-buying.
  9. Grow your own fruits and veggies. If your yard is sunny and your neighbor's is shady, grow the appropriate plants in each of your plots, and trade.
  10. Join a community garden.
  11. Get over "meat prejudice." Stewing cuts are cheaper than steak and hamburger. Whole animals, and cuts with the bone in them are cheaper than; for example, a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Mutton is cheaper than lamb.
  12. Use bone broth in dishes to get inexpensive nutrition without having to add meat to the dish.
  13. Raise your own chickens and/or bees.
  14. Embrace rice and beans!
  15. Volunteer at farmers' markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) in exchange for free, or discounted produce.
  16. Find out if your farmers' market takes food stamps (some do).
  17. Buy, cook, and share food with friends and neighbors.
  18. Create, or join a CSK (Community Supported Kitchen).
  19. Reframe thinking about spending money on fresh, local, and organic food as an investment, rather than a luxury. Prioritize spending money on food over other things.
  20. Eat nutrient-dense foods. You'll need to eat less, and won't need to buy vitamin supplements.
  21. Trade your talents and skills for food.
  22. Embrace limits. Have more expensive food for special occasions, not every day.
  23. Use a slow cooker.
  24. Use a pressure cooker (apparently they don't blow up anymore!).
  25. Always cook enough to have leftovers.
What are your tips for eating locally on a budget?

One of mine is to check out Sustainable Table and Local Harvest. They are great resources for finding farmers' markets, CSAs, food co-ops, and other sustainable food resources.

Photos by me from the Temescal Farmers' Market.

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  1. Thanks for the ping! Nice article too!
    --Chelsea Green Publishing

  2. You're welcome (: Glad you liked the post.

  3. What a great list. I have to completely agree with you about buying vegetables and fruit in season, eating beans and grains and using the pressure cooker which are all things that I advocate. And the new pressure cookers DON'T blow up -- they can't.

    Although I don't cook meat, the less expensive cuts are tenderized quickly in the pressure cooker. And you can cook grains in half the time of other cooking methods, and beans in just minutes.

    You can see more about pressure cooking at my website and my not very active blog and my other website

    The more people who encourage eating locally on a budget the better.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks, Veggie Queen! I would like to learn how to use a pressure cooker, and these resources are great.

  5. Anonymous5:49 PM

    RE: #13: or rabbits! less fat, more protein than chicken even!

    RE: #14: unfortunately haven't found good local sources for affordable beans - Rancho Gordo & Terra Vegetables have beans for $5/lb!!! Rice is available from Davis area, which is within a 100-mile-radius (all depends on how you define local)

  6. Eris - Have you read the book, Farm City by Novella Carpenter? She has a whole chapter about raising rabbits.

    Thanks for the local beans and rice resources. I was wondering, when they mentioned eating beans and rice, how easy they would be for most people to find locally.

  7. Anonymous5:02 PM

    I love the last tip! I ALWAYS cook enough for leftovers!


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