Each week when I pick up my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), I ooh and ahh as Doug Doering, the farmer, digs through the insulated bag telling me what we have this week. Red and purple beets. Small and large red potatoes. Dripping sweet heirloom tomatoes. Huge bulbous onions. A small bag of snap beans. A container of tiny blueberries. Two odd looking green balls he tells me are Kohlrabi. My mouth waters as I mentally prepare my week’s menu.
I am passionate about food. Eating well is a priority in my life and, because I love to cook, a big part of my time is spent either reading about foods/recipes, shopping for food, prepping and cooking food, and of course, eating. And since there’s just myself at home, I freeze a lot of leftovers. But eating well can be pricey. I found myself shopping every five-to-seven days at the local health food store and spending about $100 each visit.
So this year I came up with a plan. Because my goal is not only to eat well but to also eat local, affordable, and in-season as much as possible, I decided to put the desire into action. I began buying bulk bundles of meat from a butcher who sells local meats (I use Steve’s Meat Market (www.stevesmeat.com) in DeSoto, KS, but you can research and find others in KC). For $99-$149, depending on whether I choose the monthly special bundle or the economy bundle, I get enough meat to last more than a month. While I’m at the market picking up my meat bundle, I load up on local free-range eggs and some cheese, as well.
Then I joined a CSA. For $16, I receive a bounty of 6-8 items per week. I chose Stranger Creek Heritage Farm (strangercreekfarm.com) because they grow all of the fruits and vegetables on their farm without synthetic chemicals, free of GMO’s, and Certified Naturally Grown (CNG). Plus, the pickup location is at the Merriam Farmer’s Market, which is convenient for me. While I’m at the farmer’s market. I can also pick up anything else I might need from other farmers. Kansas City Food Circle has a great map of member farmers who offer CSAs on their website. Visit http://kcfoodcircle.org and click on the box that says, “CSAs.” It will take you to a map that shows pickup locations for all the farmers.
Between these two services, I have all the fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, and eggs I need for the month and pay about $200 (instead of the usual $400-500 I was spending per month at the grocery store). Because I’m eating primal lately, avoiding most grains, all I need to buy at the grocery store to supplement my pantry is usually milk.
I frequently hear that eating well is too expensive. And for a long time, I thought so, too. But if you take some time to plan ahead and find local vendors, you too can eat local, whole, organic foods at a very reasonable price.
If you’d like to read more about eating well, check out the August issue of Evolving Magazine. Bon Appetite!