Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Smart Strategies for Saving on Organic Food

by Brian Beevers, Clairemont Farmers' Market Manager

Ask any non-organic friend why they choose pesticide-impacted produce and most likely, they’ll say:  “organic is too expensive.”

It’s hard to argue with that one. Because organic food is produced on a smaller scale, it tends to be more pricey.  But if you are dedicated to the more robust flavors and health benefits of organic produce, you can find ways to save: buy in bulk (when on sale), eat in season and freeze or can.

Yes, these strategies involve more work, but cooks also gain the convenience and satisfaction of serving healthy, flavorful foods.  Did you know that you can buy organic cheese and butter in bulk, divide it and it will stay well in the freezer for six months?

Those who enjoy the abundance supplied by local organic and pesticide-free farms through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program often stretch their harvest dollar by freezing the fresh fruits and vegetables they don’t use that week.  A small box feeds a family of 4 for one week for just $25.  Even the most frugal shoppers admit they appreciate the cost savings involved in their weekly harvest.

Why? CSA farmers pick what’s ripe and get it to you within days (or the same day in many cases). They’re harvesting and you’re eating in season. Eating in season is both cost beneficial and guarantees that your food will be fresher, since you aren't having to pay to have it shipped in from another state or country.

Want to try freezing or canning?

To Freeze:  Cut fruit or vegetables into equal sizes, spread evenly on a baking sheet and freeze until hard. Slide frozen chunks into re-sealable plastic bags for more convenient storage. If you plan to store them for more than a few weeks, blanch them first by dropping them in boiling water for three minutes. This step inactivates the enzymes that could destroy nutrients.

To Can:  Canning is making quite a comeback.  Potential bacterial infestation make this both an art and a science. Do you remember the Ball canning jars?  With the domination of grocery store canned and frozen food, one may have thought Ball jar company had gone the way of the dinosaur. Not so.  At www.freshpreserving.com/, Ball gives you all kinds of tips and even a free e-Newsletter. Good for Ball for staying the course! It must be enjoying quite a comeback.

Enjoy the health and environmental benefits of eating organic, shop at your local Farmers' Market!
Clairemont Farmers' Market
Every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm
4271 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. 
San Diego, CA 92117

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