The title of last night’s sold out food lecture, sponsored by The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, “How to Eat Locally on a Budget” was sure to draw a crowd given that our society is both obsessed with the economy and eating better/more consciously these days. We all know that eating organic and locally is better for the environment, but it’s easier said than done if you’re not used to cooking. There is a sense of elitism in the media surrounding those that can afford to eat like we should be eating. The all-star panel of published experts on the subject told us we had it all wrong and that this negative perception was only just that – a perception. The panel included:
Deborah Madison, Author, What We Eat When We Eat Alone
Leda Meredith, Author, The Locavore’s Handbook: The Busy Person’s Guide to Eating Locally on a Budget
Jessica Prentice, Author, Full Moon Feast
Temra Costa, Author, Farmer Jane: Women Changing the Way We Eat – Moderator
I went to the event curious and somewhat skeptical as to whether or not I would get realistic and doable tips from the experts. Going organic and local is a great goal to strive for, but if you’re not used to cooking and you don’t really understand food, you may have to take a few (fulfilling) steps before it becomes a lifestyle. I’m happy to say that there was so much important and useful information packed into the 1-hour panel discussion. Let me get right to the best advice:
- Buy in PEAK Season: it’s good to wait for things to be in-season, but prices are higher at the beginning. If you wait till PEAK, prices drop by as much as 50% and taste is perfect!
- Walk the Farmer’s Market: Walk the entire market BEFORE buying. Often prices will differ throughout. Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” Price may be higher because a farm is organic-certified which costs more to run.
- Grow things Yourself! Understanding food can start with a little garden that is all yours to nurture and use. Ask for help at your local gardening store or get to researching on the web. Here’s a great article to get you started.
- Volunteer for FREE Food: Many CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) – you know where you order a box of veggies and/or meats/dairy from local farms and they get delivered to you or a local spot in your hood…provide a free box of goods in exchange for some volunteer hours from you every week. Many intangible benefits come with this idea (aside from free food).
- Eat Beans & Rice: Beans and rice have been a staple food of many native populations for a good reason – good nutrition, low-cost.
- Join a Freeze or Canning Party! Canning or freezing foods in bulk will save you time and money in droves. But it’s not very fun to do this by yourself. Join a party or host a day in the kitchen with some friends. Eating organic, local and sustainable is very much about community. Join the fun!
- Start a Farm. Urban farming is on the rise. Yes, we’re talking raising farm-yard animals even in the city. Read my Novella Carpenter post for some insight on the first time I ever heard of urban farming: Urban Farming: we’re talking bees, chicks & piggies
- Buy the WHOLE Chicken: buying skinless/boneless is more expensive. If you buy it whole, you can roast once day and stew the next.
- Go Mutton: Ok, I have to admit, I never heard of mutton until last night! Apparently, it’s the same as lamb, but where lamb is sheep 12 months or younger, mutton is 2 years and older having a stronger taste and less tender – but cheaper!
- Don’t Cook like it’s the Holidays Every Night! Sometimes having a filling bowl of soup and a crusty piece of bread is enough for dinner. Why torment yourself with making 3,4,5-course meals every night? Rethink the menu. Get simple and save the holiday-style meals for special occasions or company.
Ok…according to blogging “rules” this post is way to long – but there was so much good information to pass along. I’ll be taking some of my own advice and starting a garden (never thought I would ever) when I get back from Yosemite! Happy 4th of July!