Thursday, May 8, 2014

Local / Organic Produce vs Bountiful Baskets

So, last Saturday was the first farmers market of the season here.  I was super excited.  Partly for the donuts from King Oliver's Donuts.  They are super fresh, delicious, and the young people who sell them are hilarious.  I'll be stuffing a donut in my face and the young man is telling me to enjoy it and have a good day.  Don't talk to me...I'm eating.

ALSO excited for fresh local produce!  Got some good deals and a few treats.  Then I supplemented with a few things from the Food Coop which is handily less than a block away. I tried to get roughly the same amount of fruit and veg as was in the Organic Bountiful Basket.  Partly because it was plenty but  wasted none, so not too much.  Partly to make for a decent comparison.  

So, here's what I got:

Farmers Market  (local and all "organic" even if not certified as such)
Greens                                7oz         $3.50
Kale                                    8oz         2.00
Spaghetti Squash               7lb 9oz    4.00  (that was just 2 squash!)
Potatoes                             2lb8oz      2.50
Garlic                                 7oz         1.00

Farmers Market Total:  11lb 7oz   $13.00   $1.14/lb

Co-op  (not local, but organic)
Carrots                 5lb                          4.99
Onion                   1lb 13oz                3.54
Tangerines          14oz                       1.28
Grapefruit           2lb8oz                   3.43

Co-op Total:       10lb 3oz                $13.24                   $1.30/lb

The overall TOTAL:  21lb1oz of fruit/veg for $26.24            $1.21/lb

That is pretty good!   I did learn from the Bountiful Baskets to get a better variety than I would have previously.  One disappointment with the Organic BB was the lack of aromatics (onions and garlic).  I eat those everyday so I had to go buy those in addition to the BB.  Since I can't get organic locally, that was a challenge.  I do have garlic powder and dried onion, but to make a decent soup or omelet or stirfry or etc I really need the fresh product.

The Organic BB cost me $1.76 per pound (assuming no "first basket fee")
The Conventional BB cost me $0.78 per pound
This cost me $1.21 per pound and allowed me to support local producers and a local business. 
Obviously it is appropriate to compare it to the Organic BB so it saved me $0.54/lb.  That's pretty good.    (It is $0.43/lb more than the conventional BB.)  

So far the quality of everything has been amazingly good.  Comparable to the quality of the food in the Organic BB.  Granted there are no strawberries or asparagus, but those aren't ready locally yet so there you are.  I still have some strawberry shrub that I made last year and I put that in some gelatin.  Not as good as fresh strawberries but oh well.  Sometimes I also have it in some stevia-based ginger ale or water.  It's still delicious and since it's made with my own home-brewed honey vinegar (from local honey), it's full of probiotics.

Anyway, I guess the upshot is: I can indeed do better with the local/organic when the farmers market is going.   It may not be possible to do better, or get local, in the middle of winter so I may still do the occasional Organic BB in the winter months.

Additional savings:  Since I have not needed to go to the store for onions/garlic, I have not had the opportunity to impulse shop. 

One challenge I'm having is that I'm out of my freezer stash of meat.  I got lovely local eggs at the farmers market (jumbo size...truly huge) so I'm not lacking protein, but I suspect I'll be tempted to have more lunches out just to get a burger or BLT or something.   I also like some decent meat in my soups.  I got a bit of chicken at the co-op, but it's already gone.  Tried to make bone broth with the bones...but it tastes like crap so won't be eating that.  I wanted to buy some local meat from the vendors, but 6-12$/lb for ground or other low rent cuts is just too damn much for my blood.  Nothing but the chicken was on a decent sale at the co-op.  Oh well.  I have plenty of nuts, beans, lentils, seeds and eggs that I'm not lacking protein, it's just that the soups are not as delicious as with a nice bit of beef or pork or chicken.

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