I've been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and even taking a few "baby steps" to have our family eat more locally. Why do I want us to eat locally? A few reasons, not necessarily in order of importance...
(1) I think our diet will be healthier if we eat locally. Our meat, fruits, and veggies would all be much fresher and would retain more of its nutritional value by the time it got to our plate. I don't really see myself going crazy and being a total "locavore" because there are just some foods that are pretty convenient. We don't eat a lot of processed foods (mainly because I have an allergy to corn, so no corn products like HFCS in our household), however we still have some processed food in our house that I probably just can't part with (It's handy to reach for the carton of Goldfish for Little Man to snack on and I would probably throw a fit if I couldn't have BBQ potato chips with a pimiento cheese sandwich).
(2) For the Bible tell me so. (Flashback to your childhood days singing Jesus Love Me anyone?) Ok, well this point I'm still up in the air about. I've been reading through the book of Jeremiah and I've encountered several verses to make me stop and think about this. I'm still pondering...
(3) Our money would stay in the community. I really like the idea of our money staying right here in our community to support our friends, neighbors, and local farmers. Farming is a hard life and generally not very lucrative. I'd much prefer my money (well, my hubby's money if we want to get technical about it!) stay here to support their livelihood, rather than go to large corporations who keep most of the profit.
Speaking of money...we're not made of it. There's not a Money Tree in our backyard and we only have one income since I SAH, so I have to be careful about what I spend on my portion of the budget, which obviously includes groceries. While I'd love to eat mostly locally grown fruits and veggies, it's not always in the budget. Here are a few things that help our grocery bill be a bit more frugal.
(1) A helpmate to the budget is our garden. I have very generous in-laws who fund the garden, so this is free food to us - I just put in my "sweat equity" and get a great return on my investment. I use the garden goodies to freeze and can food that we can eat throughout the year. I'll be honest, it's a lot of work, but it is cheaper, healthier, and tastes SO much better than store bought items. I also use our canned goods as presents which are always a big hit since they are so darn tasty! Not only does it save money in my "grocery" budget, but it saves in the "gifts" portion of our budget, too!
(2) Farmer's Markets, local farmers & Pick-Your-Own. Even though our garden last year produced a lot of veggies, we didn't have any fruit. We (and by "we" I mean my FIL) planted a few fruit trees, some blueberry bushes, and muscadine vines, but none of those are producing yet. Just because we don't have fruit doesn't mean it's not around. PLENTY of local farms have delicious strawberries, peaches, blueberries, apples, and other fruit. It's still typically less expensive than the grocery store, definitely tastes better, and keeps your money in your community (have you seen where the strawberries in your grocery store are coming from these days?). If you want a fun outing with lots of people and beautiful food, check out your local Farmer's Market. I absolutely LOVE going to the Farmer's Market where my parents live - it's really big and there is so much to see and EAT! If you're willing to work a little and "pick your own" on a farm, you can usually come out even cheaper. Either way, you can buy enough for just that week or you can buy a bunch to put up for the rest of the year - it's up to you!
(3) Coupons! I clip coupons weekly (only items that we'll actually use). I'm not great at using these during my weekly shopping trips, but I stock up and use them when we have Super Doubles and Triple Coupon weeks at Harris Teeter - then I can really see some savings! I especially use coupons for non-food items that I still consider "grocery" items, like personal products, household items, etc. This is a big money saver for us so that I can put that money into better quality (and hopefully local) food.
Well, there are my thoughts about local eating while still being frugal. They may be a bit scattered, as I'm still trying to work out my thoughts on this matter. We're not perfect...we have grapes in our fridge from Chile bought at Sam's Club, strawberries from California bought on sale from Harris Teeter, but also a bowl of peach slices from the freezer that I help pick last July from right down the road. As our MOPS Mentor Mom tells us, remember that a 2-degree change can make a world of difference in your final destination.