Buy Local: Tips for Affordable Healthy Eating
In an anxious and fast-paced world, slow and healthy living is hands down the way to go. However, there has been some criticism that a lifestyle based on locally-made and organic food privileges the wealthy. This is because some products under this umbrella can be too expensive for many people, especially when sold from boutique stores. In my opinion, good lifestyles can be achieved within your budget and capabilities, and it’s important to not lose interest in your positive ideals because they suddenly feel too hard or out of reach.
I do see that some health food stores can be pricey, at times overly so. For that reason, I always try to keep Ben’s Bees products affordable, as do the producers I recommend and buy from myself. But to dispel the myth on some level, buying fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as much other produce (meat, eggs, pulses, spices, wine…), from the market is usually far cheaper than in many Australian supermarkets. In my experience, this is especially the case when compared to smaller “express” chain supermarkets, where food is super-packaged, super-handled, and often exorbitantly priced. The markets, however, aren’t putting money into mass promotion, transportation, late-night rosters and staff. They are there to do one job— to sell fresh local produce during regular market times. Simple as that.
So how can you get more bang for your buck in the market place? Here are some good tips!
TIP 1: Lower the amount of meat you buy. Look, I am a meat lover, I must admit. But I made a choice some time ago to only buy the best. And as organic cuts are understandably more expensive than less ethical varieties, eating well and less is a good option. A predominantly plant-based diet is an all-round winner for the environment and your body anyway, so this seems like a positive compromise.
TIP 2: Make the most of “end of day” or “end of week” specials. As organic foods are natural foods, they go off. This means they need to be sold relatively quickly. Unlike those doused in chemicals, they won’t stay beautiful in your fridge or pantry for months on end (which is good, as that broccoli that still looks spritely after three weeks, lost in the depths of the fridge, scares me to be honest). This means that local producers NEED to sell their fruit and vegetables within a few days, often reducing the prices at the end of the day or week.
TIP 3: Experiment. When you head to the markets, try new stalls until you find one that suits your needs and your budget. There are great local producers out there who cater to different households and cooking requirements; while one might not have what you need, or at the price you desire, another will. It’s also very likely you might spark a friendship with a store owner if you hang around long enough!
TIP 4: Remember to get some soul shine from your shopping trip. This is the sure-bet difference between markets and supermarkets. While the experience is at times more haphazard and less predictable, the sheer joy you will receive from meandering the aisles, smelling the produce, and seeing all those fantastic colours and shapes before your eyes is sure to work wonders on your spirit. In my mind, this last tip is reason enough to grab your basket and make local, market shopping a weekly ritual.