Every Saturday morning, a few members of my community walk a few blocks to the 32nd Street Farmer’s Market to buy our weekly fruits and vegetables. We feel that it’s important to buy at least some of our food from local farmers. Last week, we decided to take “buying local” a step further and buy all of our food locally. We weren’t sure how expensive it would be or if certain foods would be available so we tentatively planned a vegetable-heavy week of meals.
We planned to buy our fruits, vegetables, cheese (an essential in our house), and milk from the farmer’s market; rice, beans, tomato sauce, and flour from Punjab Groceries & Halal Meat, a local grocer; and our bread, English muffins, and dinner rolls from H & S Bakery.
As we awoke from our Friday night slumbers last Saturday, it became quite apparent that the weather would not be cooperating for our jaunt through Baltimore’s local food-stations. It just happened that the dreariest, rainiest, grayest Saturday that we had had since moving to Baltimore in August came when we needed to spend the entire morning outside. After bundling up in rain gear and grabbing our grocery bags (and a large thermos of coffee in my case), we headed north on Guilford to the farmer’s market.
As we walked around the farmer’s market getting drenched, we searched each farmer’s stand for the best prices for each of our items. The vegetable and fruit prices were, as expected, pretty comparable to what we had paid in the past, but milk, cheese, bread, jelly, and granola were astronomically priced compared to what we would pay at the grocery store. We paid nearly $15 for 3 half gallons of milk, bought the cheapest jam we could find, bought about 8 ounces of granola in place of cereal (for the week), and decided against buying cheese because it was expensive and they didn’t have the kind we wanted.
After the farmer’s market, we walked (again, in the rain) to Punjab Groceries and picked up our few items at the small store. After dropping off our various foodstuffs back at the house, we drove down to Fells Point for the bakery. Upon arriving, we were instantly surrounded by the delicious smell of bread, dough, and cakes. As we walked around the friendly confines of H & S, we realized that their products were much cheaper than at the other stores where we had shopped. We found it really interesting that buying some things locally (remember the milk!) was so expensive while other things were so cheap.
But wait, so, why does this all matter? Well, buying local products can improve your health (less preservatives, chemicals, etc.), it saves shipping resources like gas (read: GREEN), and it supports local farmers and the local economy. You can also ask the farmer more about what you’re buying. How is it grown? What’s the best way to prepare it? What will be in season soon? What won’t be? And WHEN WILL STRAWBERRIES COME BACK!? OK, that last one was just what I would ask, but you get the point.
If you would like more information, check out this website: Why buy local?
Oh, and by the way, don’t worry. We ended up buying fresh cheese at a Polish deli.