Thursday, June 19, 2008

Knowing When Food Is Freshest Will Save Money!

Shopping at Farmers' Markets is becoming the "In" thing to do. Stopping by a road side stand to pick up fresh berries while on a road trip adds to the flavor of travel. Going out to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin is all part of the fall experience. What may not be as obvious is the money we save by participating. Eating food that is in season and at its freshest helps the local economy by supporting farmers; it saves fuel because fruits and vegetables don't have to be flown in from other countries; and it limits the amount of chemicals that have to be used to force fruits and vegetables to ripen.

Not sure when fruits and vegetables are in season? Check out the Center for Urban Educations Sustainable Agriculture site where they have a chart for Fruits and Vegetables.

While you're at it, consider picking up extra and saving it for later. Most Fruits and Vegetables can be frozen or canned for later use. My family also makes a batch of apple sauce and jam to store for the year. I can't tell you the last time we purchased either item at a store.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Apartment Living Doesn't Limit Your Ability To Grow Your Own Food

Between the price of food skyrocketing, the interest in fresh food that actually tastes like I expect it should, and continuing scares of salmonella in tomatoes, I have been looking into gardening options. For those that live in a house, it may be a challenge if you're not into yard work, but for those of us that live in apartments it provides a lot more challenges.

Inspired by a posting on Wisebread by Linsey Knerl called "The Ultimate Green Workout," I began to examine ways to supplement my food budget. When I had a deck it was easy. I'd invest in large planters and grow cherry tomatoes, herbs, and peas. Hanging baskets are great for cucumbers and zucchini.

Today, I have a bigger challenge. I have no outside space and no deck or patio. So with determination I began to brainstorm ideas.
  • Look into Community Gardens. For a small fee you can "rent" a small plot to plant.
  • Family members and friends are often in need of help in the yard. Consider a labor swap for gardening benefits.
  • Talk to landlord about planting an edible landscape. It's environmentally friendly to utilize garden space for food rather than high maintenance lawns or shrubbery.
  • Check out Gleaning. Gleaning has a long tradition in farming communities where groups go out into fields after the crop has been picked to pick remaining produce that was missed. You can find information on Gleaning groups on-line, at local food banks, and Granges.