Eating locally is not more expensive

There is a common belief that buying food at a farmers’ market is too expensive for most people. I disagree for two main reasons.

First (and more importantly, for me) is that I don’t calculate price only in terms of money. If you read this post, you’ll see that I outline bunches of benefits to eating locally. I like to consider physical, mental and community health in my purchasing decisions, as well as long-term health for myself. In this way, it is certainly not more expensive to buy food from a local farmer than to buy food from Giant or Kroger of HyVee or whatever local grocery chain is around.

Second (and what I think is more important for most people) is simply that it’s not much more expensive financially (see this article saying the difference between a healthy and unhealthy diet is $1.50 a day, if you don’t include long-term consequences). I have a vegetable/fruit CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, also called a crop share by some) that I share with my roommate. We pay $117.12 per month which comes out to less than $15 per week per person. I rarely buy other produce because there is usually so much that it’s unnecessary.

I do eat meat and, at times, have had a meat CSA as well which is about $150/month. However, I’ve recently started eating less meat and spend less than half of that, while still eating high quality meat. I should also note that a 5 month season for the meat CSA usually gives me enough meat for about 8 or months so with that in mind it’s more like $80-$90 a month for meat.

With some planning, I can easily get by spending less than $100 a month in addition to this (including what I spend at other vendors at the farmers’ market and at the grocery store). So, most months now that I don’t have a meat CSA I spend about $45 a week or less on groceries. It’s been so long since I’ve bought groceries any other way (and I was living in another state) so I’m not sure how this compares but I think it’s pretty good. I do, a couple times a year, go on a crazy grocery shopping spree that is a couple hundred dollars so that should somehow be taken into account as well, but probably wouldn’t add more than about $10 per week to my totals.

Here are a few of my favorite local vendors: