5 Ways to Use the Internet to Save Money on Local Food |
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5 Ways to Use the Internet to Save Money on Local Food

liz May 15, 2013

By Nina, Contributing Writer

When I first learned about real food, I was already feeding my family on a very small budget. I allotted $180/month for groceries and we had 3 little ones at the time. So as I started reading food blogs and learning about nourishing my family, one concern kept coming up: how am I going to do this and keep our budget under control?

Thankfully, I had some great resources and also developed a plan. Today, my budget is higher, but it’s not outrageous. I can feed our family of six for an average of $525/month. Sometimes, it’s more, if we’re out of a lot of stuff, or I get lazy and buy stuff I could make myself, and sometimes it’s less. (I like those months. 😉 )

One key to keeping our food budget under control was to find local food … online.

Reach Out to Your Network

I’ve gotten some great tips about inexpensive local food sources by asking my network of friends if they knew where I could find it or if they had friends who might. The fastest way was to post a status update on Facebook, or send messages to friends who I thought might know.

Through friends on Facebook, I found a local food co-op that helped me save a lot of money on coconut oil. I was also offered the opportunity to get a free CSA share by delivering from a close town to my own town and found some sources I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Putting the word out also let my friends know that I’m a “frugal foodie” and has rewarded me with gifts from their gardens or orchards when they have excess.

This doesn’t have to be limited to Facebook. If you’re part of a local group that has an online forum, join (if you haven’t already) and ask if anyone can share some tips with you. Chances are, you’ll quickly find some great food sources.

Google is Your Friend

I love to research, so one of the first things I did when I was on the hunt for local food sources was to Google it. Using your town name and local food/farms/CSAs, should point you in the right direction. You may find individual farms, or, in my case, websites that list the local food sources in your area.

Real Milk

Real Milk is a project of the Weston A. Price foundation that helps people find local sources of raw milk. I used it to find sources of raw milk in my area and found a great dairy that I purchased a herd-share through. I also found another farm that’s an Azure Standard drop point (which is actually pretty local for us), as well as another farm that provides butter, cream, yogurt, eggs, olive oil, and cheese, in addition to raw milk. If I was unable to find results using Google, I would have emailed the owners of these farms to see if they could point me in the direction of some good local food sources.

Local Harvest

When I was researching CSAs, one of the first websites I found was Local Harvest. This website is designed to connect people to “the best organic food that’s grown closest to you.” I was skeptical when I first found it because I live in a small town in a pretty rural area, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Since it’s been a while since I searched Local Harvest, I did one as I was writing this. Our local options have grown! One quick search pointed me to 36 farms, butchers, farmer’s markets and CSAs. Did I mention it’s a free resource?

Craigslist

If you’re looking for something in particular, you can either search Craigslist (I start in the farm & garden section) or post an ad letting people know what you’re looking for. Be prepared if you post an ad because you might just get a flood of responses (real ones!) to your query. For instance, I put up a little blurb looking for sources of grass-fed beef one year and had 5 farmers email me within a couple of hours. This helped me find some good sources of beef and even pointed me to some new restaurants as they let me know which ones used their beef.

The internet is a great tool for saving money on real food resources, even when it comes to finding local food itself!

Have you used the internet to find local food sources?

This is the writings of:

liz
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4 Comments

  1. Yep. Use the internet regularly for research. Found several local resources. And none of them will save me any money at all. Soooooooo so frustrated that people keep claiming that “buying local saves money”… IT DOES NOT!!! One simple example: milk. I pay 2.53 per gallon, raw milk from a farmer is 8.50 per HALF gallon. We drink 4 gallons a week. So our milk budget would go from $40 per month to $272 per month. Just switching to organic milk at 5.99 a gallon would up the budget to $95 a month. Produce from “local” farmers is at least twice what I pay in the store now. Local beef is 2-3 times what I pay now at Costco. $10 for a chicken is ridiculous, how about $3.99. I just seriously want to know why people think that paying more for something saves money? Compared to what??? I don’t intend to be argumentative, I just want to know how “local” is supposed to save me money when the prices are outrageous?

    Reply

    • Pam, I did not get that the author was suggesting that eating local food saved her money, but rather how she saved money buying local food. The difference? I think the author wanted to eat locally and searched for ways to do so frugally. She does not anywhere claim that eating locally will save you money but how you to save money when you are eating locally. Most who try to eat locally, do so for other reasons than saving money (at least in the short term). This site and others give many reasons why eating locally is a good idea if you want to know why (actually the price is not so “outrageous” if you consider it). This post was to give ideas on how to save money where you can while eating locally.

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  2. In my own experience, asking local farmers about where to get raw milk doesn’t always work….especially if it is illegal in your area…which it is in mine….people are very very hesitant to share…and I get it, I do…just frustrating that it has to be this secret underground world type of thing!!!

    Reply

  3. In response to the first comment and wanting to know “how buying local saves you money compared to what?” With all due respect, It saves money compared to paying a doctor or hospital and pharmaceutical companies for poor health and disease resulting from chemicals and preservatives in your food that was shipped from an average 1,500 miles. Research the cancer rates and one can only deduce it’s from the food supply for sale in your giant supermarket, laden with everything you do not want to consume. 40 years ago people spent 30% of their income on food, it was the most important thing, now people are used to the prices of cheap food which is a result of agriculture subsidies to farmers, a false economy that will eventually collapse like every other. As Joel Salatin says, my hero farmer and pioneer of reminding us about the importance of local food – “Pay the Farmer or pay the Doctor”

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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

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