Buying Local

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.

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5 Responses to Buying Local

  1. Katie says:

    This is so great, Tom!

    In college my roommates and I would wake up early on Saturdays and walk up to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market (Carrboro is the little hippie town next to Chapel Hill) to buy fresh fruits, veggies and meat (we were also guilty of buying tons of fresh flowers there too! They were just so beautiful!). Eating local was super important to us and I hate that moving to Atlanta has changed that for me.

    I know that there are tons of farmers’ markets around the city, but none of them are within walking distance…I guess there’s just something I find off-putting about driving to a farmers’ market…but you have inspired me! I drive to the grocery store…so why not drive to the farmers’ market? I think there might be a trip in store for me this weekend! 🙂

    Oh! And glad you finally found cheese! I’d die without cheese!! 😀

    • Tom O'Keefe says:

      Hey Katie, I’m glad you liked the post!

      It’s really become a fun activity to go to the Farmer’s Market each week and be able to interact with the community a bit more. We seem to always bump into someone we know!

      I know what you mean in regards to walking vs. driving, but I think the amount of gas you save by buying from a farmer’s market is greater than the energy it takes to deliver fruits and vegetables across the country.

      And, in regards to cheese, you don’t realize how much you love it until something like meat is all but eliminated from your diet!

  2. triciawu22 says:

    Hey I randomly found your blog, but I’m so glad I did. I will be graduating with a degree in Elementary Ed. in May, then I’m wanting to join JVC. It’s great to have a glimpse of what it’s like living in a JVC community, and especially teaching (though your experience as a high school teacher will obviously be different than mine in an Elementary school). I’m sure I’ll be back again to find out more about it. Thanks!

    Tricia

    ps. I love my city’s Farmer’s Market!

    • Tom O'Keefe says:

      Hey Tricia,

      I’m so glad you stumbled upon my blog! And it’s fantastic that you’re planning to do a year of service with JVC. If you ever have any questions or want to know more, please feel free to contact me!

  3. […] community. You don’t need a car. You can walk most places: grocery store, watering hole, gym, the farmer’s market. They’re all close by. You have a certain protective bond with your neighbors. You see […]

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