And now, the dramatic conclusion of How to Save the World and Your Wallet by Buying More Organic.
1. Take it from the back
Get the most bang for your buck by purchasing the freshest produce in the store. In general, produce is stocked from the back. Take the time to dig to the back or the bottom of the pile to get the newest and shiniest fruits and veggies.
While doing so, please attempt not to make a giant mess and to put things back the way you found them - best not to anger the employees who are handling your food.
It also helps to know your store's schedule for receiving produce - at Earth Fare in Huntsville shipments come in on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with Monday usually being the biggest shipment.
2. Know your seasons
While it is not essential to know the seasonality of most things, with other more high-ticket items it can help. Peak asparagus season is in the spring, which is when we'll buy it weekly because the price drops from $5/lb to $2.50/lb. Most citrus fruits have a peak season in the winter; get all the best deals then. Berries peak in the spring and summer, according to type.
Some things are simply a staple of our diet and we will buy them any time, like apples and carrots. However, these things also tend to not have gigantic price fluctuations. Base your "essentials" on items like this that will stay relatively price-stable throughout the year, rather than shelling out big bucks for items every week.
Check out the local seasonality chart from The Local Table magazine in Nashville.
This can be a great way to buy organic - or naturally grown - produce for less than at the grocery store with the added bonus of stimulating your local economy and keeping good folks in business.
A side note on local produce buying -- just because someone is selling at the farmers market doesn't mean they don't douse their produce with pesticides. Most farmers at markets are likely to be practicing sustainable and health-friendly methods on their crops, but it isn't guaranteed. Just make sure to ask.
4. Get a CSA
If you can handle the variety and suspense of not knowing what veggies you'll be getting from week to week, look into a Community Supported Agriculture share. You'll be putting money straight into the hands of local folks and will be able to know exactly how your food is grown. Added bonus? Being "forced" to try new things, like kohlrabi and purple carrots. Yay!
Do you have any other questions about shopping for organic groceries? Any tips?