Get Local if You Don’t Want to Get Dirty

Organic is the Gold Standard

Who says eating organic has to be expensive? Everyone does. (Everyone but me, anyway.)  If you’ve ever shopped at a Whole Foods Market (I rarely do) your opinion is certainly warranted.

As more and more of my friends are making the switch to a whole foods plant-based diet, they are looking to ‘organic’ not only to maximize those plant health benefits (no pesticide residue) but minimize impacts on the soil (think herbicides, fertilizers) as well. Organic is not always the answer, but most times it is.

Produce prices in the organic section of the grocery can be enough to make you faint. I do like what these stores are doing for the organic world, but it may not be necessary to spend five times more for a thing you can get cheaper somewhere else. Just cut out the middle man.

I’m talking about local farmers.  Buying organic when you can is just the right thing to do. Aside from the immediate health benefits of ingesting veggies without all the chemicals attached to them, they are generally grown from healthy soil, the solid foundation of any health food. Buying directly from the grower — rather than paying your grocer to do business with him for you — has benefits as well. You may even discover that in addition to feeling good on the inside and for your budget, you’ll feel good in your heart as well.  In my house, it’s just how we roll.

Today was a particularly fruitful day. (Pun intended.) Bubba, our local farmer, tends the earth in a 5-acre tract around his home with seasonal produce — free from pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Technically, he cannot ‘label’ his produce as organic, but I know the truth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes and approve of his methods.

Indeed, he loves his soil as much I love mine. And his yield proves it.

Weekly visit to our local organic farmer, here’s what I get for $11.

That’s not just good for my soul or my body, it’s also good for my pocketbook, and helps me keep to a $150/week grocery budget. (Yes! I can do this with a family of six!)

From Farm To Fridge

Developing a personal relationship with your local farmer, is like growing your family. When I have a glut of figs or tomatoes, guess who I take them to? That’s right…Bubba. And when he has a glut of potatoes or butternut squash, he throws a few into the boot at no extra charge. We sample breads from his kitchen, jellies he’s made, and he tries out soups and entrees made with 100% plants, many from his own garden. Sometimes, we just come and sit with his 90-yr-old momma for a while to give her some company and help her to forget the arthritis pain for just a little while.

Most visits, I even learn tried-and-true techniques from an old-timer on how to do things better in my own garden, without the aid of pesticides, fertilizers, or the general fuss and micro-managing that goes on with most backyard gardener varieties.

Here’s what I got this day for just $11 and some gas:

  • kohlrabi (3)
  • romaine lettuce heads (6)
  • bunches of carrots (2)
  • bunches of beets (2)
  • full bag of mustard greens
  • full bag of kale

Getting “local” is a great way to squash (another pun?) soaring food costs. Grocery chains have their place too, but a company who gets to sell to one of those chains must go through the trouble — and cost — of putting an organic label on it. In that way, you can pretty much kiss your hard-earned money goodbye, even if it is for a good cause.

Get What You Get And Don’t Throw A Fit

When buying from a local farmer, remember that you get what you get. Don’t be picky and choose ‘pretty’ fruits. You must remember that each plant also has its season. You can pay the hefty premium for out-of-season veggies at the grocery (air fuel is expensive!). In the best of situations, grocery veggies average a 1,500 mile trip. Local is where it’s at.

Another way to maximize food dollars is to to eat all the parts that are edible; here is a quick look-up for your convenience. When you use all the parts, it’s like a two-fer for dinner: the roast beet root warmed as a side dish, the tops of beets mixed with salad greens. Try Jean-François’ Purée of the Whole Danged Carrot Soup. You will enjoy freshness all while eliminating wastefulness. What’s not to like?

Find your very own organic veggie farmer or farmer’s market.  Put in your zip code at to see who is in your vicinity. If you’re lucky like us, the weekly trip to ‘stock up the fridge’ could double as a ‘nice country drive’ as well.

Related Links and Articles:

35 thoughts on “Get Local if You Don’t Want to Get Dirty

  1. This is one place where we’re in perfect agreement. As long as “local” is a relatively elastic concept, I can do quite well from season to season.

    A trip up to the Conroe area yields blueberries in summer; one good day picking, and I have enough to freeze to keep me for several months. In Dickinson, there’s a family whose gardening hobby expanded exponentially, and from about May until the end of the crop, there are veggies, peaches, blackberries, and at least a dozen varieties of tomatoes: heirloom and otherwise.

    A farm in Mount Alba brings produce to the market in Nassau Bay every weekend. Right now, their quality is suffering a bit because they’ve grown so large, so fast, but I’ve learned not to preorder. Standing in line on Saturday morning isn’t the worst thing in the world, and their tomatoes, carrots, kale, and spinach can’t be beat. When summer comes, their peaches put Fredericksburg and Pittsburgh orchards to shame.

    I have a source for yard eggs now, and for chicken that’s truly free range, well fed, and fresh/never frozen, and in only a couple of weeks, Froberg Farm in Alvin will have fresh strawberries again.

    So, yes. I still use the stores for some things — right now, the CaraCara oranges are in, and for 99 cents a pound at HEB, I could afford to spend an entire evening juicing and freezing. But once you start cooking and eating what’s available, the thought of stopping by a fast food joint, or picking up a frozen dinner at the store, just doesn’t cut it!


    1. Fantastic, Linda! Thanks for the info. And with the Houston area’s year-round growing conditions and mild climate, we get to eat fresh, local veggies in every season of the year. It’s a great place to live in that regard. We gave up eggs for the same reason as dairy milk.

      Did you know that blueberries are easy to grow in your yard with the right cultivar / container / soil?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you find the link at the end? For You can search the area around you for local produce and farmer’s markets. You may be surprised at how little seasonally grown, cutting-out-the-middle-man veggies really costs. Worth the peek; it really keeps our grocery budget manageable!


      1. I didn’t check that link, but a few years ago I looked at some farm-direct options in Austin and found them expensive. Likewise in general for farmers’ markets I’ve been to here. I should take a look again now to see what’s what.

        Let me add that when I moved to Austin in 1976 is was billed as the most affordable of the large cities in Texas. For some years now I’ve heard that it’s become the most expensive.


      2. Houston is still considered America’s best kept secret for general living affordability, but food prices are slowly creeping up. Doubt we’ll ever be as pricey as Austin Let me know if you find anything in your area. I’m thinking it’s mostly grazing and wine country in central Texas, but I heard it rumored there’s an apple orchard out that way too.


  2. Perfectly put Shannon. Local produce is the healthiest way to go about for travelers, once our minds and toes get used to a place so will our tummies. Another reason to spend an idyllic evening with your blog, just love your passion for a sustainable planet!


    1. In our urban culture, it is not typically0 the case here. We are much too used to getting all types of produce year-round at the grocer, with no connection into what went into getting it there. Unfortunately, the local farms don’t have the means to ‘market’ their yields to the end user, so it’s a bit word-of-mouth. Thanks so much for your kind words, Christy. Something tells me I’d fit in better with the rural Indian population than I would with city folk.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great recipes, thanks! I would be curious to see what the equivalent of your $11 haul would have been at the grocery store. My mind has been blown each week when I total up the “market value” of what we have picked…and we get it VERY locally (with some supplementing for the things not yet ripe in our region…) Great post Shannon!


    1. One head of organic romaine lettuce is $3.50 at our grocery! There are several in that load alone, if that gives you an idea.

      I should also add that I pick my own. I bring a knife, gum boots, and bags and fill up while the kids visit and chase chickens.

      I probably also should have added that with self-harvesting, one must be okay with the occasional snake or insect (I am), which grocery stores lack in their pretty aisles. Thanks for coming by!


      1. Haha! I do love the snakes and anoles. Not a slug-lover tho. Pretty leaves for dinner is a bit like a neglige. It’s nice to look at, but doesn’t last long, so why bother?


  4. Reblogged this on Chocolate Chips and Chaos and commented:
    2015_Day 160: While I doubt my family will ever go all-in on the plant-based diet, buying local is certainly something we could (and should) do better at. I’m reblogging Shannon’s DirtNKids post as a reminder to come back to it for further reading when we get back from our vacation to Wisconsin. Thanks Shannon!


    1. I’m sure you have several out your way. Let me know how it works out for you, Julie. The beauty of Texas is that our growing season is 12 months long. You can grow something edible in your yard at any time of the year. Isn’t that awesome? Enjoy the rest of your vacation. Happy summering!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic post Shannon! I don’t miss my local Wed. morning farmer’s market, love talking to the farmers who have just picked what I am buying. That porch swing photo is truly awesome. When we partake of vibrant food we become vibrant. 🙂


    1. Just another from the archives, Jet, but two years later, it still holds true! Many of us live near farmers or markets but have gotten too complacent with the ‘convenience’ of the grocer. Time to slow way down and pay less in the process. Nice to see you, Jet.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That’s an amazing haul for 11 dollars – and eating locally grown food is a guilt free pleasure. I didn’t know about LocalHarvest – great resource. Two other places to look for local, organic produce are and – ecovian lists other green businesses as well.

    As for my “ç”, I’m not so particular about that. If you ever need one again, though, you can cut and paste the one in this comment. Why make a new one when you can reuse?


    1. Wow…thanks, Jean-François (see? I did it)!! Two I hadn’t checked out yet and will most certainly do so. I’m still amazed at how much he gave me. My neighbor and mom got a portion of it. We’ll see what he doles out again on Sunday.


  7. What a great post. I couldn’t agree more, though I don’t practice enough of what I preach on this. I do regularly get my eggs farm fresh from a woman I met. We call her Berna the Egg Lady. I buy mostly organic produce at the store. I have convinced my husband the extra cost is worth it. But I know all too well (thank you, Michael Pollan) that local is the way to go. We have great farmer’s markets in my city. I need to spend more time there.

    I read that 60 years ago people spent a much larger percentage of their income on food than they currently do. We now expect cheap food, and we get what we pay for in that respect. Funny enough, people 60 years ago also spent a much smaller percentage of their income on health care. Somewhere there has to be a connection.


    1. People want the same VALUE for what used to be provided locally for what now comes from a handful of locations, far, far away. That’s what we mean by “cheap.” At the least, fuel costs are increased (shipping). It’s all about the balance of a simple math equation, so something else has to decrease. Subsidies, GMO’s, herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers…the list goes one. Geez. It does make processes cheaper, at what price?

      As for how food relates to our overall health as Americans, yes, there is a connection. That topic alone would take a whole ‘nuther blog to vet it all out. Thanks for comments, Angie.


  8. Hello! Thanks for the comment on my post! I’m never able to grow enough produce to can myself (i have an apartment garden), but I buy from farmstands or my mom grows them for me!

    Thats an impressive bounty you got there! Even with your farmer friend being generous and nice, it is possible to get that much produce for a similar cost. I get lots of greens from a local farm for practically pennies. Eggs, however, from local, small farms in my area are going for $8 a dozen!



    1. Thanks for stopping by! My purchases in the past (during the 100-degree heat) were potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, okra all of which weigh more but carry away less. This was my first late winter haul. His eggs are slightly less than the grocery for free-range organic – $3/doz. He also keeps an apiary and sells the resulting honey raw.


  9. That’s a nice bundle! We have a great farmer’s market in the summer here, but I haven’t found anything equally as nice during the winter. I do find I can trim my grocery bill by making a lot of my own food from scratch. We have snow today, but the warm weather we’ve had lately has given me a craving for starting my small garden. Not yet.


    1. When you’re ready to start a backyard garden, I’d love to share your experience. It’s what I’m about.

      We have a very long growing period here. Winters are not too bad (if at all) and we can start tomatos and cucumbers indoors at the first of the year and start enjoying fruit by the end of March thru July. There’s just no reason NOT to do it here — except maybe free time.


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