Did you know that eating local and buying better quality food doesn't mean you have to make a bunch of extra stops each week?
We're all busy enough without adding more errands to our lives. But when I first went through my “food conversion“, I had no idea how to do anything but make all those extra stops, because I became so picky!
I wouldn't be caught dead feeding my family eggs from the grocery store. I can't get my meat there anymore. No way am I buying that milk again.
You Real Foodies know what I mean…
When we first start down this journey we become snobs, at least for a little while, until we loosen up a bit and figure out where it's ok to compromise now and then and where to stay firm.
But even then, there's a lot of foods that we'd never buy from the grocery store again.
(OK, I probably haven't actually loosened up in very many areas… It's difficult to do that once you know what you know, you know? Read this though: I'm Really Not a Food Snob!)
So here's what we do:
- I only have to pick up raw milk from our farmer once every 4-5 weeks since we're part of cowpool, where 5 families all take turns, and 4 of us are in the same neighborhood. The other is only a mile away. (Read more about raw milk.)
- My friend, Amy, gets our fermented bread for us when I'm not in a streak of making my own, which I haven't been in a while because this fermented bread is so good and I just got out of the habit. Soon I'm trying sourdough again, and I'm hoping this will become our everyday bread.
- My friend, Sonia, gets us eggs from a farm by her Mom's house. (Read more about how good eggs are for us.)
- I do the monthly meat pick-ups (find pastured meat here if you don't have a local source), and also get butter or frozen berries from a local farm store, plus occasional trips to the local health food stores.
- We recently bought a winter veggie CSA share from our local health food store, and 4 of us took turns going there every week.
- Every few months I stock up on bulk items with a local buying club.
- Another idea: ask your local meat or CSA farmer to do a local drop for you and friends!
No friends or neighbors close by who “get it” yet so you can split up the errands?
Start chatting with them about food issues and educate them; learn more together! Most people want to do better when it comes to feeding their families, but they're too overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. If you start talking to them about why factory farmed eggs, meat and milk are scary, then chances are they'll start researching it for themselves (hopefully) and soon you'll have someone to take turns driving to the farm with!
You'll spend less at the local grocery store
These days, trips to the regular grocery store aren't as necessary, or at least not as often, and for the most part they're not cart-overflowing kinds of trips. Our local store is a Meijer and it has loads of stuff besides food, so I'm still in there a couple times a month for clothes or paper products or school supplies, etc. I do still buy some food there, since they carry a few brands that are OK (and more organics all the time), and I'll get some produce now and then, too. But it always feels good blowing right through the icky meat section with all the fake-reddish looking meat from who knows where, and skipping right by the milk and eggs aisles.
How do you save yourself time from running errands all over the place for Real Food?
Some of you will tell us about how you grow and raise it yourself, now that's convenient! But there are various reasons why we all can't do that, so bringing friends and neighbors along this journey with you is the next best thing. 🙂
Heather G says
We have a local buying club where I get meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, and honey all with a few odds and ends. The same group that coordinates the buying club also coordinates a farmer’s market (at a farm no less) that has produce (my husband is too picky for CSA) and more odds and ends. The farmer’s market is mere feet away from an awesome nature preserve my family loves to visit so we can make it a great day long outing. Any meat I can’t get through the club or market I order online and the health food store has, or will order, any of the other odds and ends I need. I’m still looking for more local sources but for now I only have two to three stops a week- FEWER than when I looked for the cheapest deals on SAD food.
Lisa C says
I mostly shop at New Seasons, a locally owned health food store, for produce, meat and odds and ends. I get eggs and milk at two separate stops but they are near-ish to each other. In summer I hit the farmers market. I’d like to do a csa and also buy a quarter beef or something–that would cut down trips to the grocery store. I LOVE New Seasons, though; I only want to go there less to save money.
Hi Kelly ! Great topic! I have just converted myself, over the course of a month. Fortunately for me (super north NJ) there are a lot of local farms & farmer markets. They happen to be along the “weekend errand route” as well as a Co-Op store that carries the oils, etc. Anything else that I can’t get in person I buy online.
I am an apartment dweller so stocking up with a whole lamb or side of beef (which the farmer has offered, darn!) isn’t realistic, but a Bi-weekly trip is. I am not offering info without being asked, but I am offering, “Hey!! I learned how to make my own yogurt!! It’s awesome!” and then questions start, and some friends have started converting a few items at a time. We all have to start somewhere, and I get a better response with ” Cool, look what I figured out!” than by telling someone.. what you’re eating is awful!!
Interestingly, each thing I discover shortly thereafter gets ” validated” by mainstream news… recently, A NYT article about Pink slime & grass fed( Op Ed-“The Pink Menace”) , also NYT article about the FDA putting stronger warnings on Statins, and then a CBS 60 Minutes story about the dangers of sugars & how they are NOT all the same https://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7403942n..
I think it’s great, the mainstream is catching up, albeit not as strongly/quickly..lets keep these real food convos going people !!
I have just recently discovered a place near my house that has raw JERSEY!!! milk, eggs, and chickens..all raised well in pastures. I will be making weekly trips to get the goods! 🙂 But what I do is I am usually the meal planner in the house bc its just like my thing! haha. (btw, you may remember me…I had a blog called “teenagehealthfreak”. and I did an interview on your site once..well I have gone farther into nourishing traditions eating and i have moved to https://mygrandmasplate.wordpress.com/ where i will be blogging now!!!)
any who..sunday is my “food day” i go to the grocery store, market, etc to get what i need…after planning the menu for the week. when i return…i prep all my veggies in a pesticide killing solution if i can’t get organic and chop up lots of things for the week. it saves time and its easier to make fermenting and soaking a part of the week…b/c i know what’s happening the next day! 🙂
Of course I remember you! But I’ll just call you “B” or “Teenage Health Freak”, since I’m not sure if you want your name ‘out there’ yet. 🙂
Your new blog looks great, by the way, thanks for saying hi!
Kelly p.s. I hope your family appreciates you!
Big freezers can reduce errands. I have a big upright freezer just for meat (plus another freezer for everything else) and will buy a whole lamb or quarter bison at a time, which then can last for half a year. Last year I was able to buy 75 lbs of bison soup bones, so I have a year’s supply of broth bones. I get the meat either shipped to me or meet the farmer in a parking lot to pick it up, depending on the source. I’m lucky now with my raw goat milk. I used to have to drive to the farm but my current farm delivers to me weekly, plus they have pastured, soy-free eggs. For vegetables, we drive to a weekly CSA pickup in summer and fall, plus go to farmer’s markets (the CSA doesn’t supply enough) but then in the winter have to get vegetables at the health food store. Our local WAPF chapter has farmers at the bi-monthly meetings, so that’s another place where I can purchase food.
Melissa B. says
Azure IS awesome and Kelly is right, they aren’t doing drops out here in Michigan yet. BUT, I’m excited for the day they do (and I have been in touch with them about interest in the Grand Rapids area!) In the meantime, Kelly, all of your suggestions are great ones. Buying clubs, farmer’s markets and local farms are the solutions I have found to be the best!
I agree with Cindy. Love Azure Standard for all those “grocery store” items you can’t get from your co-op or CSA box. I’m the coordinator for our area. Another thing I love is my produce box- local/organic and they deliver it direct to my door every Friday morning! LOVE IT! Love anything that saves me some time.
Cindy Stalnaker says
This is not really local, but it works for the things we can’t easily find. We found this great company called Azure Standard. Delivery is not available everywhere, but we just started a “drop” in our small town in Arkansas. This is a company in Oregon that specializes in fresh and organic food. They have a ton of products like fresh fruits and vegetables, flours, meat, dairy, homeopathics and essential oils. We order online on a certain day of the month. Then the next day they load the truck and the next day they leave. The next week we meet the regridgerated semi in our town for the “drop”. I usually get a box of apples, bag of onions, bag of potatoes, kefir, frozen food and body wash, all organic. Check out the website http://www.azurestandard.com for a list of drop points. This has greatly reduced my number of trips to the grocery store! And it is so easy to shop online!
They don’t deliver to us, unfortunately, but I’ve heard good things about them.
Heather (not the same Heather!) says
Keep checking. They’ve been expanding their coverage very quickly, lately. IIRC, they are starting Chicago-area drops either just recently or very soon (I have lots of family there, so it caught my attention), so they are headed toward MI! It doesn’t hurt to call them and tell them you want them.
We’re in the SF Bay area, so we’ve got it about as easy as it gets for real food–except that raw milk is $16/gallon! Even so, we get a couple gallons/week, and use non-homogenized, low-temp pasteurized for yogurt and cooking. We buy meat in bulk, and do most other things from Azure, Costco, or Trader Joe’s. Produce we were getting from a CSA or the flea market (where oranges are 20 cents a pound all winter!), but we will have a veggie garden instead of the CSA this year, and we have quite a lot of fruit growing in our yard, too. Milk is a weekly pick-up, but it’s only 5 minutes away, and on hubs’ way home from work.
Just like so many so-called healthy, organic or ‘natural’ products…you have to read the labels. Although Azure Standard has a wholesome philosophy (“We specialize in natural, organic, earth-friendly foods”) you will find many of their products are none of the above.
Take for example the Frontier Beef Flavored Broth Powder: INGREDIENTS: Corn Syrup Solids, Dehydrated Onion, Salt, Autolyzed Yeast Extract (Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Dextrose, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil), Dehydrated Garlic, Celery Seed…this product is full of toxins and a high probability of GMOs (and I have bought Frontier organic spices so I’m not targeting Frontier in particular ).
And for a non-food product look at Nature’s Gate Henna Shine Enhancing Shampoo: INGREDIENTS: Water, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lawsonia Inermis (Henna) Extract, Urtica Dioica (Nettle) Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Equisetum Hiemale (Horsetail) Extract, Symphytum Officinale (Comfrey) Extract, Humulus Lupulus (Hops) Extract, Melissa Officinallis (Balm Mint) Leaf Extract, Achilea Millefolium (Yarrow) Extract, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Panthenol, Citric Acid, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylene Glycol, PEG-SM, Diazolidinyl Urea, Sodium Chloride, Fragrance.
I find this type of promotional marketing disingenuous if not down-right unethical. Sometimes it’s best to just go with the least number of ingredients if you don’t make your own and support those suppliers who do the same.
Heather (not the same Heather!) says
Sally, the point is that Azure carries the quality ingredients to make things yourself and at affordable prices (most of the things I get from Azure we would otherwise have to do without or shell out much more cash for at Whole Paycheck). Not everyone who shops with them has the same standards you do or I do. Also, their self-branded stuff usually is top quality–for example, my grandma has had a wholesale account with Frontier for about 30 years, so I grew up with lots of their products, but Azure’s herbs are WAY better quality! I’d be more annoyed with Frontier for putting their brand on something with such nasty ingredients. I read labels everywhere I shop–even the farmer’s market!
I do the best I can (I work outside the home so things can get tricky)… I have a raw milk pick up where I can get milk, eggs, cheese, meat and honey. I used to do that every 6-8 weeks and stock up. Now I have switched to non-homo, low-temp past grassfed milk from a grocery store. I buy meat in bulk (beef 1-2 a year, pork/chicken once every month or two). I stock up at a local international market on many non-perishables (coconut and olive oil, ghee, nuts, tea, etc.) and some freezables – I go there every 3-4 months. I still do weekly shopping: Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s (I wind up spending too much money on snacks and such – processed foods are SOO expensive). I use my weekly local farmer’s market as much as I can (unless I don’t want to get up on Saturday morning – my 2 YO still nurses at night so I don’t sleep all the way through the night, either) for veggies, fruit and honey (there is dairy, too, and some meat). All in all, not bad!! I have certainly come a long way in the last year or so… Thanks for posting Kelly. It’s nice to read what others are doing.
Kelly, you are very lucky to have it all work out. I still run around to all the stores. I live in a little town and the health food store is in the next town. They are really expensive so I don’t go often. I go to Trader Joe’s in Richmond whenever we are in town visiting family. Sometimes I go to Fredericksburg to Wegmans. They have some good organic stuff. I still have to go to the grocery store every week and still spend too much money there even tho I don’t buy meat, chicken, eggs or milk. Ugh! And I don’t have any friends near me who are interested. I have started my garden, growing lettuce, beets, trying garlic for the 1st time, & parsley. The more I can grow, the less I will have to buy.
I’m getting better at getting stuff myself but still feel like I’m making tons of stops and the stores closest all stink. I wish I had even one person near me who felt the way I do about food, but they all just think I’m an idiot! 🙁
Naomi Williams says
Make the extra stops part of your exercise routine.
Every other Saturday I need to make an extra trip to buy my five pounds of grass-fed ground beef from a farmer’s market, so that has become my morning to take a nice, long bike ride. I have an insulated cooler strapped along the side to keep it nice and cold till I get home. I go early, and it’s a great way to start the weekend.
Wendy (The Local Cook) says
My cowpool just quit on me, so I am now making the trek out to the farm each week but I kind of enjoy going to pick up the milk. I get eggs and cheese and sometimes meat while I’m there. The West Michigan Co-op is great for stocking up each month. Finally, love our farmer’s markets!
I dream of being part of a CSA, cowpool and buying club. We are Americans living in Germany and it is so difficult to be a real foodie here. The quality of food is much better in Europe, but obtaining it all is anything but convenient or easy. We have the market for produce and eggs and sometimes chickens. We then have a metzgerei (butcher) for meat and the health food store for nut butters, butter, cream and fresh milk. Throw in the fact everything is in German and it is quite a challenge. How do you translate sprouted flour anyway? 🙂
I’d love to start my own buying club, but don’t know where to start. Also, “stocking up” on anything is very American and highly criticized by locals.
I get raw milk from a biweekly pickup. My food coop/buying club is also biweekly, on alternating weeks. I plan on hitting the farmers market once a week, since the local CSA schedule didn’t work with mine. And, I hit whole foods or trader joes once a month, or whenever they have a good sale. I am thinking about doing a Meat CSA or Cowpooling with the coop.
I am also in NYC, so all of this happens within walking distance, or by commuting by bus or subway.I