Seasonal Produce: Save Money, Live Longer

This is the first year I can call myself a gardener.  I'm pretty darn proud that I've grown something and I'm using organic techniques for extra "Earth brownie points."  Oh yeah, it tastes amazing too. I'm estimating that I'll save my family about $1,000 in groceries this coming year because I'm planning on canning, making tomato sauce (that's most of my savings), and drying the herbs.  That's some serious money! Shift Your Habit I was reading in Elizabeth Roger's book "Shift Your Habit" that buying (or growing) local can really make a difference to your paycheck as well as to the planet.  Some facts from her book ...
  • About 1/3 of the produce you currently buy is out of season
  • It can cut way down on "food miles," the distance it takes to get that out-of-season item to your plate
  • Long distance produce is harvested before it's fully ripe so it's "fresh" when it finally gets to you.  This can result in inferior taste, quality, and nutritional value compared with in-season produce.
I have consciously tried to buy more seasonally this past year and I've enjoyed the soft flow of season to season and the new treats they bring.  I'm not a diehard about it; if I'm dying for asparagus in September, I'll pick some up, but I'll serve it with the local butternut squash that got harvested in the last couple of days and is waiting for me at the farmers' market. Grocery Store Strategy When I'm in the grocery store or the farmers' market, I cruise the selections first looking for seasonal, local, organic fruits and veggies.  I ponder what looks good and what I can make for dinner.  I plan two or three meals on the spot and think of left-over options.  Then I go back and pick up what I need and head for the meat counter. I do like to cook, so going in with an open mind is fun for me.  If I come up with an unusual assortment, I hit the cookbooks when I get home and try new stuff out on my family.   So in essence, I do menu planning, but at the grocery store.  Does that make sense?  I also buy food two to three times per week so it can be as fresh as possible, and with organic, you really need fresh.  Without the preservative sprays and genetic engineering the food does actually rot.  (That's a good thing!) What do you think about buying local?  Do you just get what looks good or do you try to follow certain guidelines like buying local first or organic first?  It can get confusing quickly in the grocery store, so how do you sort it out? Cheers, Lisa

About Lisa Johnson

Lisa Johnson here. I've been a personal trainer since 1997, a Pilates instructor since 1998 and the owner of Modern Pilates since 1999. I'm hoping to give you some good ideas to get or stay in shape with a healthy dose of humor and reality. Thanks for joining me.

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2 Responses to Seasonal Produce: Save Money, Live Longer

  1. bodynsoil July 20, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    I love gardening, I am organic too btw, this has been a difficult year here in northern Vermont due to a wet spring followed by a hot dry July. We are making due and growing things that love this type of weather. Our spring lettuce and spinach did really well, tomatos look nice and so do the eggplants. It is the berries that are really doing phenomenally well this season. We pick at least 1.5 quarts a day for the last week or so, all extra go straight to the freezer for winter berry smoothies.

    So glad you are enjoying your first season and now you have been bitten by the bug…

  2. Lisa Johnson July 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    I’m envious of your berries! I want to do that next year … :) My tomatoes are growing like crazy but no ripe ones yet. Lots of Zukes & summer squash though.

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