As I continue my value of CSA posts to record what we spend on organic veggies in a CSA, I find myself looking at prices around the area. Lots of choices these days in Howard County to eat fresh organic foods. I wonder in the future are there too many, and what may be the fallout? Will some of them fail? Will the surge in interest in eating organic whole foods sustain all these choices?
Yesterday we needed to go to Elkridge library to pick up a book not on the shelves anywhere else in the county. So, I requested two detours on this trip. Tacos at R&R. And, a visit to MOM’S. MOM’s carries a crispbread that I love to take on picnics and spread some good Bowling Green Farms Chesapeake cheese on top of them.
I got prices of organic veggies while in the market to compare to what we saw at Wegmans, what we pay for Love Dove Farm, or Breezy Willow at the county farmers markets, and the value of our Sandy Spring CSA veggies that we have prepaid a year’s worth with a set fee.
My value of CSA posts go all over the place to try and compare my savings, but since pricing changes weekly and the sources have vastly different pricing, it is pretty tough to stay on top of what organic veggies cost week to week.
This week I used the pricing from MOM’s to compare. It was a huge savings to belong to a CSA. If one lived in Eastern HoCo, MOM’s and Wegmans are the closest sources of organic foods, and most Wegmans prices were cheaper for produce than MOM’s. Will that difference drive people to shop at Wegmans? Only time will tell.
As for CSA value this week, here is the breakout. I decided to round up by a penny for all the items ending in 99 cents to simplify my accounting. I did not include the holy basil (tulsi) as I have no idea what to use to compare it. So, my total is for eleven of the twelve items in the previous post I wrote Thursday when I picked up the box. The one difficult item in the box is lemon cucumbers, not something you find in stores often.
Potatoes $2 a pound. We got 3 pounds, total $6. This is more than they cost at Wegmans for organic.
Red Onion $3 a pound. We received a pound bag, total $3.
Mixed specialty squashes, use zucchini price of $3 a pound and we had one and a half pound, total $4.50.
Cucumbers, $2 a pound, we got 1 1/2 pounds, so $3.
Beets $3 a bunch, total $3.
Italian eggplant, $3 a pound, ours was 12 ounces, so $2.25 total.
Japanese eggplant, these were $4 a pound, and our three totaled a pound, $4.
Heirloom tomatoes were $6 a pound there, I know we find them for $5 at markets, but to use MOM’s, they totaled $6.
White Bell Peppers, MOM’s only had purple for $4 a pound, we got a pound so $4.
Pint of grape tomatoes, $4.
Heirloom carrots $3 a bunch.
Total cost at MOM’s to buy approximately what I received in the CSA box minus the holy basil was $42.75. We pay $29.75 a week. This week’s difference would be $13.00 more if I went to MOM’s to shop.
Cumulative total value saved by joining the CSA is now at $102.80 after eleven weeks, with fourteen to go.
The important question is whether we are actually eating all the things we get, and the answer is yes, for about 90-95% of the items, we either process them for freezing, eat them in two weeks or less, or can them. This week I will be blanching and freezing the remains of the green beans from last week, and making bread and butter pickles from the last of the cucumbers.
I also learned that I can grate, then blanch, then freeze little zucchini packages to use in the winter for chocolate zucchini muffins, or for zucchini fritters. The rest of the zucchini will meet this fate.
The tomatoes, lemon cucumbers and two of the white peppers will make a gazpacho. The other peppers will be blanched and frozen. I know this is time consuming, but definitely cheaper, and healthier than buying ready made processed foods. And cheaper than shopping at the organic markets.
I really enjoy reading your cost comparisons. I’ve always looked at my share and figured there was no way I could get the same quality food, enough to feed me and my husband every night, for $25-30 a week at a grocery store, but I’ve never actually done the math. Seeing how much you’re saving is very reassuring that this is a smart choice money- as well as health-wise.
I can’t wait to get a lemon cucumber this summer! I love them. And, yes, I have noticed all kinds of new markets in our area as well. They are all a little overpriced and I’m wondering how long that will last. Nevada is having a pretty hard time with unemployment, etc. People just can’t afford even basic groceries. Sad.
Interesting cost comparison. I’m trying to keep track of what I’m saving by growing my own food. The Whole Foods near my house has started carrying VA and MD grown produce, but it’s still much cheaper at the farmers’ market. I’ll probably take some kind of average or middle price to figure out my savings. We definitely freeze some of our squash and spinach to have during the winter too. It also saves money because out-of-season produce is often expensive and not as tasty!
I just signed up for my first CSA with Breezy Willow! I’m wondering where in HoCo you’ve found the best prices on organic meat?
I don’t just buy organic meat. I try to buy free range, grass fed or pastured when I can. Most of what I buy comes directly from the farms and I know it is more expensive than stores.
My best value is my CSA meat or chicken shares. They ARE organic. Second best value is Friends and Farms, not 100% organic but really great quality. You could sample a protein and dairy basket from them and see what they offer.
When you are subscribed to their weekly shares, you can also shop online for the rest of your protein and dairy. Those prices are the best I find.