Farm to Table – Just a Saying?
Or can people really practice what they tell the rest of us to do?
I’ve slowly been moving to purchasing local, fresh food and utilizing better menu planning. Yes, it costs more up front, but I wonder if I will save money over the long run?
I started by purchasing a side of beef. Grass fed and grass finished, at a local-ish farm only a state away from me. Heartstonefarm.me
I found them by looking on the internet for grass fed beef. Lots of places will sell you an expensive steak, but these folks were willing to sell 1/4 shares all the way up to the entire cow.
I recently purchased a half share – or 170 lbs of beef at a total cost of $1599.00
This equates to $9.40 a pound. More expensive? Sure. Of course this is doing exactly what we are told to do by the life gurus…
- Buy local? Check
- Organic? Check
- No antibiotics? Check
- Support a local farm not a big corporation? Check
This also means that I’ve purchased a years worth of beef for my family that equates to slightly over a pound of beef, per person (family of 3), per week.
Plus the meat tastes amazing. It is funny how different it tastes – better it tastes. When I mention it to most people they nod and agree with me and tell me how much better grass fed is… Yet will rarely pay for it.
Next was the milk and cream.
I looked into purchasing a CSA farm share so I could obtain raw milk. You can look into it and do your own research. I’m no foo-foo hipster or hippie, but I am serious about my food. Simply put, we pasteurized the milk which killed off any potential bad bacteria – but also killed off any good benefits and enzymes to the point where the test for pasteurization is to look for the lack of the good enzymes! Since we killed off the enzymes that made milk more digestible, we then homogenized the milk to break down the fat molecules and make them smaller so we can then easier digest it.
I headed over to realmilk.com
I found a farm only 10 miles away that had a farm stand and a special refrigerator for their CSA members. Once I week I head into the store and grab my two bottles of milk (1/2 gallon total) and my cream. I’m set for the next 52 weeks. Total cost: $624
The organic grass-fed milk at the health stores will cost you over $6.00 a half gallon right now.
I didn’t exactly shop around. I have found cheaper since, but I literally supporting a local farm down the road. Literally.
They also have a vegetable share I might partake in also. $450.00 for 20 weeks of vegetables. 10 units a week. No clue what that means yet but probably more than I can eat before it goes bad.
Which brings me to my meal planning. The Brown household doesn’t do the best job on meal planning. Even if we try, by the end of the week you don’t want to eat what you thought you would at the beginning so many items go to waste.
Just this morning I saw two cucumbers I had forgotten about. I’ll try and salvage them…
I raise chickens – it’s easy and I get fresh eggs. The cost is my labor to clean and take care of them and minimal on the food. Egg layer pellets (what the food is called) is not costly and an extra bag of scratch feed. Plus they are little garbage disposals. Any left over food and fruit, they love to eat!
Speaking of fruit
Pick and freeze raspberries in early June. We grow our own and usually have more than we can eat. Cost: $0 – and prune them in the spring.
Pick and freeze wild blueberries in early July. Cost: $0 – They are found everywhere where we live.
To freeze either one properly, wash and clean them and lay them in a single layer on a jelly pan. Freeze them. Remove them from the pan and put them in a container whereby you can just shake them out as needed!
In the autumn you can pick your own apples or grow them yourself! I have three apple trees in my greenhouse that I will be planting this year along with a self-pollinating cherry tree – but I will keep that in a container.
We have a small garden and grown only the more common items we find we eat a lot of… Squash, cucumbers, peas, lettuce, etc.
So let’s tally all of this up.
- 170 lbs of beef – $1599.00
- 1/2 gallon of raw milk and cream a week – $624.00
- Vegetable share at local farm – $450
- Grow my own veggies – $ cost of seeds and time
- Small Fruit – raspberries and blueberries – $ FREE
- Apples – $ Going rate or grow your own
- Eggs – Fresh and minimal cost
So for under $2700 annually I have created one heck of a food budget using nothing but organic items and produce supporting local farms and businesses.
I forgot to add that since I make my own maple syrup, I also make my own sugar by boiling it down into sugar that I can use in recipes.
Next I will need to seek out a source for chicken (ours are for egg laying and will not supply enough meat unless I purposely raise some for that) and bacon. I love bacon.
I see the farm stand has a few other items there: Butter, bread, pork, etc.
I will look into it further. I have food budget to spare. When you do the math on the “expensive” food I have purchased above, I’m only at $51 a week, and instead of wasting food I will be more thoughtful and deliberate about what I am eating.