So this week, I ordered a few extra items (more than usual)… we have been getting our milk from Kilby Cream, which has been really awesome for the last almost 2 years. They deliver to our door, once a week, and then pick up the empty glass jugs from the last week.
AWESOME. I just LOVE milk in a glass Jar. period. It is amazing.
This week, I ordered milk through Friends and Farms since we only go through a gallon of milk in a week, and the eggs from Friends and Farms are actually cheaper, for the exact same eggs. It doesn’t make any sense for me to continue paying deliveries fees weekly if I can get the same quality milk with only one pick up to coordinate.
So this week I spent 26$ above our CSA share of 83… so a total of 109.
Here’s what we got for that:
Tomatoes- 2 lbs
Strawberries (frozen)- 2 lbs
Pears- 4 lbs 13 oz
Apples- 2 lbs 5 oz
Oranges- 1 lb 6 oz
Onions- 1 lb 9 oz
Sweet Potatoes- 4 lbs 13 oz
Cucumbers- 2 lbs 9 oz
Broccoli- 2 lbs 11 oz
Pork Shoulder- 2 lbs 4 oz
Loose Sausage- 1b
Eggs- 1 dozen
Chicken Breasts-2 bs 13 oz
Milk- 1 Gallon
Yogurt- 1 qt
Lettuce- 3 head green leaf
Kielbasa- 1 lb
Turkey Sausage Links- 1 b
Romaine- 1 head
Sauerkraut- 2 lbs 6 oz
I’m impressed, if I break down what I would spend elsewhere for the same groceries, of similar quality, I am not disappointed. I did have an issue with the apples we received this week:
Here is the problem- no produce from a farm should be bar coded for supermarket sale…. And if they are big enough to be doing that, they certainly don’t need my business… I believe that farmers can only handle so many crops/acres before getting too big and needing to cut corners somewhere, which scares me, and I would rather support my local farms.
Disclaimer- fruit is still better than sugary processed “snacks”… But I don’t choose those for my family anyway, so therein lies my conundrum.
I felt as though the “wool was being pulled over my eyes” so to speak, trusting my CSA to do the vetting of the farming practices, and being the “voice for the community”… as such, I feel no sadness in paying them for a job well done.
ie: I can purchase a full share CSA for produce only from One Straw Farm or Flying Plow Farm, both local to me, with convenient pick up locations that run from June through November… (the growing season here in MD)… a full share means enough produce for a family of 6-8 without having to buy anything from the grocery store. Both of these farms have full shares available for approximately 570. Thats over 24 weeks for 23.75 each week… Friends and Farms (for the vegetarian basket) charges 57-58$ per week. More than double. BUT- they also add in proteins so that your vegetarian basket is complete, and you are able to make full meals. They add a dairy option weekly, and eggs, beans, frozen staples, grains, etc to round out their meal.
I am more than happy to buy from a company who does the research for me, and pay for that research.. a produce farm isn’t going to be also raising livestock, so having an organization that coordinates purchasing from all of these various local farms (produce, meat, dairy, and grain) and then bring it to me for pick up every week is certainly convenient, and I believe that it is important to pay people for a job well done.
That being said, here is the info I got from speaking with some very honest (and really helpful and polite) guys.
From Friends & Farms: the apples were from bear mountain orchards, in PA. All of their apples through the fall and winter season were purchased from Bear Mountain.
From Bear Mountain: they practice IPM methods (integrated pest management) of pest control, but DO spray when they have a huge amount of stink bugs (which don’t have a natural insect predator to introduce). They did not have any info for me as to what they spray since that person won’t be in until Monday. They have only sprayed their trees 3 times in the last year. And they personally spray their orchards, without hazmat suits or any requirements to stay out of them for any period of time. They use mating disrupters (pheromone sprays, blocks, and ties) throughout their 1200 acre orchards, to cut back on insect population all throughout the year so that they don’t have to spray, and if they do, it’s not often, and can be targeted to the specific species.
They also don’t barcode their apples.
Not even 2 minutes after getting off he phone with them, Collin from Friends and Farms called me back to apologize for the mix up, and told me that earlier this season, a shipment of apples had been lost due to a truck problem, and that they had purchased a basket of apples from Washington State. They had sat in their cold storage until now, when I called to inform them I got apples with stickers on them. The apples had been purchased to make sure that they wouldn’t run out for their customers, and he said that they tried everything to get more local apples, and succeeded, this was just the back up, back up plan, and after apologizing, offered to put some extra apples into my basket for next week 🙂
I am completely satisfied, while I would always prefer local to mass produced, I’m still iffy as to whether I’m willing to pay 1.55/lb for local apples if they have been sprayed (even though I wash and double wash, I have been paying 1.69/lb for organic for years by buying at BJs, Aldi, or Wegmans.
Hometown harvest is another option I am now looking into for produce only, that is a year round CSA to provide our fruits and veggies, while I could continue with Friends and Farms for their protein bag option and only get meats, dairy, eggs, etc from them.
Hometown harvest is 100% certified organic (!) and local (all farms are sourced on the site). However, their prices are significantly higher, and when comparing to organic grocery store prices, even higher still.
The issue I have with that, is that organic should be cheaper directly from the farmer, not more expensive, and on the flip side, farmers who care about what they are eating and putting in their own bodies and water system would be using organic farming practices, regardless of going through the costly certification cost.
This makes me wonder if I shouldn’t be investigating better ways to do things. I bought a cow last year.. that has provided us with beef for the year. I am thinking of doing price comparaisons for getting meat from the geniune food company CSA. There are a few other grass fed/pastured meat farms that are local to me, that I was thinking about looking into too.
My goal is to get better quality food, cheaper than what we are spending now. I will not sacrifice quality for price Period. Understanding that in the winter months (generally November through May), I will either be depending on a root cellar, things that I have canned or frozen myself, or perhaps purchasing an additional share at a CSA during growing season to freeze, I need to do some cost analysis break down.
We are getting chickens too, so that will definitely cut down on the cost of eggs every week, and we are thinking about getting goats… I need to do a cost analysis of both animals to see where it pays off (or if it does, if it is better to purchase milk or eggs from a farmer directly)…
Meal plan coming up, gotta go finish school with the kiddos 🙂