Thursday, March 17, 2011

Saving with the Season

We don't all have a farm, orchard, or even a garden patch.  But with a little planning ahead, we can take advantage of peak season produce.

Feeling the pinch of rising food costs inspires us to think creatively.  This is a good thing.  Let's thank the Lord for our times of plenty, and for His blessings and providence in leaner times.

There are so many resources for us out there, and so easily attained.  More than keeping a sharp eye on the grocer's seasonal produce prices, there are many months when we can stroll the farmers' markets.

These are wonderful places to visit and shop.  Meet the growers, chat with the farmers and their families.  Discover of which foods your family is most interested.
Many growers open their farms to the public.  You can find out by connecting with them.  They may offer bulk deals at their farm, however at the market you will pay retail price.

Check Local Harvest for a searchable database, you can find a farmers' market near you.  You'd be surprised!

Don't forget about "You-Pick" farms.  Check the local ads and look for road signs.  Ask the vendors at the farmers' market.  This is a great way to get a great price, after all, you're supplying the labor and transport.

Don't forget about craigslist.  They have a "Farm and Garden" category and you may find local deals on produce, markets, and "You-Pick" farms.

You can still find the occasional non-commercial roadside stand, look for the ones next to a field or operating out of a truck.  Talk to the seller, they should know about their product and from where it came.

Learn about what's in season for the best taste and price.  Real Simple and Wisebread offer a list for general in-season produce.  Epicurious offers a US map on which you can click your state to find your seasonal crop.
Finally, be sure to have safe and reputable recipes for preserving.  These will be your yearly go-to standards, the ones you rely on finding in your pantry.  Ball, the ones who now make Kerr canning jars, offer a website for canning recipes.  Also check your extension office for safe canning recipes.

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As long as I'm on this journey, rambling through life's exhilarating highs and trudging heavily amongst it's incapacitating lows, I might as well share whatever may be gleaned from my little bits of wisdom and my many missteps. No room for judgment from this broken mama. I'm writing from my heart: raw, open, messy, but saved. And I'm still thanking God!