Saturday, June 29, 2013

My Week in Groceries

I feel very passionate about buying my family’s food from local farmers.  There are so many reasons why this is a good idea:  fresher, healthier food, supporting the local economy and small businesses, the relationship and connection I build with the people who produce our food, more variety in my family’s diet, and the creative outlet that sourcing and cooking traditional food gives me.  When I talk about how I get most of our groceries locally, I get the feeling that often people don’t believe me.  And if they do, they think I spend a ridiculous amount of money and time.  The truth is, I enjoy the time I spend sourcing and cooking—it’s my hobby.  I think time and money invested in the pursuit of healthy, local food is worth it.  However, I do have a life and I do not have an unlimited budget. 

So, just to prove that it CAN be done, here are my groceries for the week:

This morning I went to the Marietta Farmers Market.  I spent slightly more than an hour from the time I left my house until I got home.  Here’s what I bought:
From Southern Swiss Dairy,  ½ gallon grass fed cream- $11. We put this in our coffee and I cook with it.  Occasionally I make ice cream or some other treat with it.  I use about 1 pt a week (unless I make ice cream), so I split it up into pint jars and freeze three of them.  When I notice the pint in the fridge is almost gone, I take out another pint to thaw.  I won’t buy this again for 2-4 weeks.
From Capra Gia,  ½ gallon raw, pastured goats milk- $6.  Anna will drink all of this.  Anna seems to digest goat milk better than cow milk.  1 doz pastured eggs- $4.  Latas eats a boiled egg for breakfast and I cook with them.  Unfortunately, my kids refuse to eat scrambled eggs (sad face) so we don't need more than a dozen a week. 
From Pine Street Market , 1lb pastured kielbasa sausage, 1lb bacon burger (ground sausage), 1lb pastured bacon, $20.  I buy the "Summer Sampler" because it's a bit cheaper that way.  No, I am NOT afraid of cured meat, especially when it is from a local, artisanal charcuterie who sources his pork from Gum Creek Farm.
In my CSA box from Jackson Lowe Vegetable Farm, $24 (I paid $480 at the beginning of the season for 20 weeks of veggies):  Red cabbage, fennel, blueberries, purple potatoes, onions, green tomatoes, lettuce
Extra vegetables, also from Jackson Lowe, $6: beets, chard.

On Thursday I went to the Carlton Farm milk drop.  This took me about 30 minutes and is a part of my regular routine, right after the kids finish their weekly music lesson.  I could also buy my veggies and eggs from Chad Carlton and save myself the trip to the farmers market…but I LOVE the farmers market, so I choose not to.  I could buy my milk from Southern Swiss Dairy at the Farmers Market along with my cream, but I prefer my milk raw.  Southern Swiss vat pasteurizes (but does not homogenize) their grass fed milk.  I would give my kids this milk if I didn't have an option to give them raw milk or if I felt uncomfortable about raw milk (I feel very comfortable with raw milk because I have researched it and I have seen the animals my milk comes from, and the conditions they are milked in). I never buy pasteurized milk from the grocery store, even if it is labeled "organic".   I bought 1 gallon raw, grass fed cow’s milk, $7.50.  Isaac will drink most of this.  I will use a little for cooking and a little for thinning out the cream.  A pint or two might sour at the end of the week and I will make chocolate milk as a treat for my kids.

Local groceries purchased this week.

Yesterday I stopped at Trader Joe's, my preferred grocery store.  I spent about 20 minutes shopping and 15 minutes driving (I was running other errands, too, so I am estimating the drive time).  I didn't think of writing this post until this morning, so I didn't save my receipt, but I spent about $45.
I bought 3 lbs organic gold potatoes, honeydew melon, bananas, 1lb organic carrots, cherry juice(used to flavor kombucha-more on that another time), Applegate Farms hotdogs, organic corn chips (my one "crappy-carb" snack food purchase--see, I can compromise), grade B maple syrup-$16 (along with local, raw honey, my favorite sweetener. This will last about a month.)
I also ran in to Kroger to get (10 minutes) 1 quart of Greek Gods full fat yogurt.  I used to make yogurt from raw milk but found that my family wasn't super excited about it and it was a lot of work.  This is a compromise food for me-it's got living cultures in it, so that offsets the "ick" of pasteurized dairy, and the label is clean.

You’ll notice that I didn't buy much meat this week.  That’s because I buy all my fresh meat (as opposed to cured) in bulk from local farmers, a few times a year.  At the moment, my freezer is a little bare.  We are trying to empty it out because in July I will receive a half-cow.  Then it will be full and we’ll be eating a lot of beef!  Until then, I only have about a dozen frozen whole chickens and a few packs of chicken parts.  These were bought for an average of $4 per chicken at different times.  They came from Mother Earth Meats, Burns Best Farm, or Joyful Acres.  I also have a ham steak that is all that is left from a bulk package of meats I bought a few months ago from Joyful Acres as well as a beef tongue left over from a half cow I bought last year (yes, I am going to cook that thing, just as soon as I figure out how…).  I took 2 of those chickens, a pack of chicken legs, and the ham steak out of the freezer to thaw for this week.  So, in shopping from my own freezer, I figure I spent about $15.  I’m not sure how much time I spent sourcing that meat, although of course, it took me 2 minutes to fish it out of the freezer.  In finding local, humane meat, the time is spent up front, researching, talking to people, and then sometimes driving to pick it up.  Since I always buy in bulk, and since I already have my sources nailed down, I don’t feel like I spend very much time at all.  Let’s say I spent 30 minutes sourcing the chicken and ham.

This week I spent $93.50 on local food and $44 at the grocery store.  It took me about 2 hours and 15 minutes to source my groceries.  How about you?  How much money and time did you spend getting groceries for your family?

In my next post, I will tell what I am going to do with all this lovely, local food this week!

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