One reason that people claim to eat processed foods is because they are cheaper. In general they are cheaper. However, I think that if you are a smart shopper you can get a good deal on fresh fruits and veggies as well. Fortunately, I have some flexibility when it comes to the amount of money a spend on food per week and I understand that not everyone has this flexibility. But eating the fruits and vegetables that are in season is cheaper and healthier than eating produce that is out of season.
Strawberries and most berries are a summer fruit. Four weeks ago strawberries were on sale. They cost five dollars for three quarts. Part of this might have been a pre-labor day sale, but either way, that is a lot of strawberries for five dollars. Then two weeks ago the strawberries were two for four dollars. That is $.34 a quart. Yesterday when I went to the food store strawberries were $3.99. That is double the price two weeks ago. It’s sad but summer is over. And summer fruits and vegetables are no longer in season. There are still some left, but over all the autum produce is coming into season.
So, a month a go a bought strawberries. I bought them because they were cheap. I did considered the fact that they were fresher because they were in season and did not have to travel so far. I did not think about the environmental implications of buying out of season produce nor did I consider the health benefits of buying seasonal fruit, but my purchase carried all of those messages.
Yesterday when I went to the store, pumpkins were three for fifteen dollars. Thats a lot of soup and pie! But I also bought, what will probably be my last purchase of grapes. They were on sale for $.99 a pound. Grapes are one of those things that I only buy on sale. They come prepackaged and when they cost three dollars a pound that package is over ten dollars. I can’t justify spending that much on grapes.
Americans expect two things. They expect cheap food and they expect to be able to eat anything at anytime. Well, sadly, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. We have found ways to grow the produce we want in every season. You can buy fresh strawberries in the winter. However, they are not going to be as cheap or as fresh. And they are going to have a much higher environmental cost than strawberries in the summer. This is a choice you are going to have to make. Do you want to take the time to be a more effective shopper or are you going to buy the items that you want when you want them.
Just because your local food store has every product you could ever want doesn’t mean you have to buy it. Be a smart shopper. The odds are being a smart shopper will leave you more cash in your wallet, healthier food in your cart and a better environment around you.