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May 24, 2010

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Wendy

I hear you! I really try to only buy from farmer's markets and roadside stands or co-ops because in an actual store organic is SO expensive.

Katie | RunawayOctober

Oh man, I'm with you on this one. I have to feed 5 adults -3 grown males- and 2 kids, plus a Great Dane on a raw diet. I get so frustrated grocery shopping that I've actually come to hate going. I can go and easily spend $200 a week. And that's just buying generics. Heck, even long distance conventional bell peppers are $1.30 a piece.

When both my husband and I worked, before our two boys, we could shop at whole foods and spend $3/lb on organic apples, but now we go through 3 or 4 apples a day!

I really wish there were more alternatives. The best I've found is a... "second-hand"... farmer's market. It's an actual grocery store that sells produce at fairly low prices. I can buy 2 weeks worth of produce for $40. At least that way, we can get our fill of veggies and fruits, instead of limping along with a 1/4 of the amount and paying the same price. They may not be organic, but most are local, and it's better than nothing. I guess. :/

Susan Berkson

Mindful Momma-You must come to market. I bought home organic asparaus, gai lan, spinach, radishes, garlic chives and baby greens for a total of $10. Plus free-range eggs for $3. Come. I will give you the cooks tour.

Micaela

Hey guys - thanks for your comments!
I LOVE shopping at the farmer's markets...but here's my dilemma: I don't always have time to shop at more than one place. I really wanted to visit one of our wonderful farmer's markets yesterday but I needed a lot of grocery staples that aren't available at a market. Hopefully, I can fit in a trip during the week.... Plus my CSA is starting up soon!

Susan - I would love a 'cooks' tour of the Mpls farmer's market!! I'll contact you soon!

Mary

Totally agree! It can be so frustrating that whenever I try to avoid high-fructose corn syrup and nasty pesticides, I go way over my budget. The only solution I've come up with is to make an old-fashioned price comparison sheet, so I know which store carries the best AND cheapest products. I'm working on one right now!

Stacey

I'm right there with you, getting all cranky trying to buy "the good stuff" and realizing that my budget might not stretch quite far enough. My boys can go through a pound of strawberries in one sitting, I look at the pints of blueberries and cringe because I know it's just not going to go very far vs. the cost..but they're good for them. I cook from scratch and try to find the best prices...and sometimes I have to compromise.

graceonline

Yes, I do get sticker shock over $6.49 for a 6 ounce clamshell (you can get a pint for $6.99? Deal!) of blueberries from Argentina. Yikes! If I'm craving blueberries, as in there is something in my body that needs them, or a member of my family has expressed such a craving, and IF the berries look fresh, ripe and perfect, I may spring for that cup anyway. Sometimes our health is worth the expense.

On the other hand, if I tool around the produce section and look for more locally grown foods, quite often I can find an organic substitute that my body cries out just as yearningly for and that costs less.

Part of the problem is that our culture has trained us to expect exotic foods all year long. We plan our week's meals based on what sounds good to us, or recipes we long to try, and expect to find all the ingredients, whatever the time of year.

What if we began retraining ourselves to expect to eat foods that are mostly in season for our locale? But when those cravings hit, well, I think about the price per pound of a pint of my favorite ice cream, or the potato chips we occasionally treat ourselves to, and I can pretty easily justify any whole, fresh food my body (or grandkids) beg me to buy.

Kim

I agree...it is really frustrating at those prices. Sometimes when shopping, I buy non organic (if they have no pesticide reside, see here:http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=8315650&page=1) and then I can splurge on the more expensive organic foods. This does mean I have to do my homework before every shopping trip though. And I try to eat in season, but it is hard!

Micaela

Grace - I love your ice cream analogy - it's perfect! I got spoiled by abundant blueberries while vacationing out East in my youth so it's hard for me to view them as something exotic or rare but that's what they are around here. My husband just picked up some blueberry bush plants so we're going to try growing our own. We'll see how much we get in Minnesota! (By the way I was referring to a 1/2 pint for $6.99, not a full pint!)

Kat

It's all perspective. We are so used to being able to buy cheap 'food' that it makes local organic produce seem expensive. I am a farm hand on an organic farm and almost all of the work is done by hand. We plant it, weed it, harvest it, pack it, and deliver it. It's a very labor intensive process. So know that when you spend more for local organic produce that it is helping local organic farmers and farm hands who work hard to provide the community with fresh healthy produce. Even better is growing your own produce, you can get a lot of produce out of a small backyard, sideyard, or frontyard garden. I know it can seem expensive and we do get sticker shock, but that's because the other food is really being sold too cheap and the environment and people around the world are paying the price for what we are not at the grocery store.

Nancy

I'm thinking that your "co-op" might not be a real co-op (i.e., where the members do all the work & there are few or no paid employees). The co-op in Park Slope, Brooklyn, for example, has only a couple paid employees, and the rest of the work is done by volunteer-members who are required to work in order to be members. The prices are amazingly cheap. However, in Atlanta, the local co-op employs a full staff of paid workers & does not require members to work. The result? Terribly high prices. Not surprising, since it's basically the same model as any grocery store (absent the fact that member-owners have a vote). Anyway, just wanted to put in my two cents -- a lot of the comments above are about grocery stores, where profit is king, so it's not exactly surprising that organic prices are high. But a cooperatively owned community market has a different model, and the prices should be much lower if the model is followed correctly.

Nursing top

Whaaa!! I love it!! Looks so delicious!! Hmmm yummy!! Wish i could taste it..hmmm very balance and healthy food...

Tatiana

Oh, my, GOODNESS!! I have the same problem constantly--even more so when I'm shopping with my husband because he sees the sticker price and looks at me like I'm crazy. It is soo hard, especially when there's a cheaper option sitting there right next to the expensive one you're about to buy. It's a constant struggle. Personally, I've decided to only buy organic fruit, vegetables, and dairy if the option is available--everything else kind of has to wait it's turn.

jtschulte@gmail.com

I find myself buying less because it is so expensive, to then just have to go to the store again because I run out in a few days! It is a frustrating cycle. Soon the farmer's market will will be full of selection...it just is such a short window in MN!!

Micaela

Nancy - you're right, my co-op operates on the model where all employees are paid for their work. However I still consider it a 'real' co-op - it is member owned and follows the principles and values of the International Cooperative Alliance.

Back in the day, I belonged to a few different co-ops where members helped run the store. I volunteered once a week to wrap cheese, fill bulk bins etc...it was fun to be a part of a community-run co-op!! That said, I am very happy with my local co-op today. It's a wonderful store with helpful employees and is packed to the rim with the kind of food I like to eat.

And just for the record, even though I was venting about the high prices, I'm certainly not implying that anyone's trying to rip me off. Good food costs good money. And so does convenience. As Susan pointed out I could have found local asparagus for much less at the farmer's market...but I didn't have the time to get there. It's all about choice and I am very thankful to have it!!

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Cindy

Asparagus at the farmer's market here (Connecticut) is $3. Over $6 would make me faint too. Geez.

Kate

I used to have this problem! Then I joined a CSA. At $600 bucks for the year (there are two $300 seasons--June-October and November to April), it costs me about $13/week for more veggies than I can eat!

I was so overwhelmed that I started a blog about it: leeksandbounds.wordpress.com I haven't been on for a bit, but our summer share starts next week and I'm sure I'll be overwhelmed again and back to blogging.

We buy our meat in bulk from a local farm, so that doesn't cost much either. Before I got pregnant our grocery budget was $30/week, now it's $50/week because I eat so much. We'll see how much it rises when our child is ready to eat food other than breastmilk.

I wish everyone had these opportunities, but I know that not everyone has that kind of access to fresh and local food.

Carrie

That is totally my problem. I love the idea of keeping all the nasty things in conventional foods out of my system, and I love the idea of buy local and in season. But those prices... ouch!

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