Monday, August 29, 2011

Bulk Food The Local Way

Most of us are used to the idea of warehouse store shopping - large quantities, often lower prices.  If you are careful, there's a lot of good deals to be had.

But if you are trying to eat more locally and sustainably, you can do that in bulk as well.  It takes a little more time and effort to suss out sources of food than it does to drive to Costco or BJs, but it's well worth it. 

We do a lot of bulk-buying out near my sister's, in Schoharie County, NY.  It's a land of rolling hills and lots of farms.  One in particular, the Carrot Barn, sells bulk tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, onions, cukes, and many other things as the season progresses.  Cheaply too, and sustainably grown.  Last year a full bushel of onions cost us $18, and lasted for almost 6 months.  That's a lot of eating for $18.

We also ordered bulk beef - really excellent bulk beef, btw from a Lancaster PA farm last year, after our visit to the area. 

But I am on a mission to find even more local food in bulk near me.  And I've lucked out a bit, and the options seem to be growing. 

Recently, Valley View Farm, just a mile or so down the road started offering boxes of peppers and 'second' peaches this year, and offer shares of maple syrup, honey and other items throughout the year.  They also recently started offering bulk meat from other local farms, serving as an aggregator of sorts for the ordering - offering beef, lamb, chicken & pork from local producers.  

The other good option is to get to know local producers.  Freqenting a farmers market, striking up conversations - "Hey, I'm looking for ___in a large quantity, do you ever do that?".  It's a no-harm, no-foul conversation.  While a bulk sale has the risk of lowering a farmer's profit, it also has the upside of ensuring a sale for their goods.  So it has the potential for being a win-win.   As they say, it never hurts to ask.

While we are nowhere near getting to the point we'd like to be at, with 1/2 of our food sourced locally, we're taking baby steps to get there.  I'd love to hear how others are doing with local sourcing as well.

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