*Disclaimer: I know my thoughts on eating healthier may seem like an oxymoron considering the amount of sugary treats I feature on this blog. But do know that I believe balance is key. Sure, enjoy that slice (or two slices) of Italian Cream Cake, but then also balance that out with a lighter dinner. One can't subsist on cookies and cake alone, and fresh fruit and veggies are a great way to balance out a sweet tooth.
Okay, so back to my little soapbox. Everyone knows that eating fresh fruits and veggies is better for you, but so often this isn't done because it is simply is more expensive to purchase those fruits and veggies than it is to pick up that cheap bag of Lays. And not only does fresh produce cost more, but it also doesn't have anywhere near the shelf life of processed food. Those twinkies will stay good for YEARS, but those grapes in the fridge will go soft in about a week and then you have to toss them.
I certainly can't argue that produce from the grocery store doesn't drain your wallet, but I believe the exception is produce from your local farmer's market. Buying local not only supports a business in your own community, but it also allows you to purchase this precious produce at a much lower cost. This is possible because the food isn't marked up to account for additional costs including marketing and shipping.
I'm currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollen right now (holy moly what a great book!) and he talks about how a farmer will normally only receive $0.40 for every dollar of the produce they grow. That means the other $0.60 of every dollar you pay goes to the grocery store, to the company that marketed the product and to the people who shipped your produce in from who knows where.
Case in point, see my photo below of the produce I picked up at Jaemor Farms earlier this week. Want to take a guess at the grand total? $3.67. Yep, you read that right. Not even four dollars for 2 bananas, 4 medium sized red potatoes, a lb of string beans, and 6 beets.
Doesn't that just look delicious??
When the lovely lady at the register relayed the total I paused and politely pointed out to her all of the items that were mine. I just figured she had missed several because the total was so incredibly low. Nope. I was both stunned and delighted. And also a little irritated because I started thinking about how much these same items had cost me just last week at Kroger.
In addition to supporting a local entity you are also benefitting the environment as well. A potato grown in the midwest has to get here to Georgia somehow. And that somehow involves a lot of petroleum, which consequently involves a lot of pollution.
Last but certainly not least, you yourself also reap the benefits. Obviously fruits and vegetables are healthier than processed foods, but I'd also pick local produce over grocery store produce because of the level of freshness (is that a word??). I love it when I go to a farmer's market and I scoop up a potato that still has a little dirt on it. That means it just came out of the ground :)
I realize that not everyone lives near a farmer's market, but please make sure and take advantage of them when you're near one. With the warmer weather this time of year you're likely to see more and more local produce, so make sure to scoop some up when you get the chance!