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When shopping for my own food, there are a few things I have to occasionally remind myself:
The availability of natural foods and ingredients to create healthy whole food dishes is variable, depending on where you live and the demand for these foods. Most larger towns have health food stores these days and as demand increases, more and more supermarkets are stocking organic natural foods at competitive prices. If there's not a health food store locally, I have found most local grocers are very amenable to ordering foods I suggest as long as they feel there will be demand and they won't sit and rot on their shelves.
Another great idea, which I suggested in an earlier post, is to find some kindred spirits—people who are also living a healthy lifestyle—and create a community co-op where the foods can be ordered in bulk an divided up among families. This is an economically good solution, as the prices are much lower when ordering in bulk.
Community Sponsored Agriculture is a system we're hearing more about these days. It's a system where consumers can buy locally produced seasonal foods direct from a farmer. Consumers can hold a share in the farm, which means that they contribute an amount up front and, in return, receive a weekly box of fresh produce. This benefits the farmers, as they have money up front to support producing the foods, and the consumers benefit by getting locally produced, organically grown vegetables direct from the source. When I have been in a position to take advantage of this system, I love the surprise of opening my weekly box having no idea what's inside. Many farms not only offer produce but also fresh eggs, breads and artisan foods.
I have some selfish motivation in writing this article, as one of my New Year's intentions is to become more organized and to observe—I won't exactly say "control"—my spending and be aware of areas where I can be more economical. For this purpose, I've created a shopping list of items I use in my cooking that I can print out and put a little tick beside each item I need to purchase on my weekly shopping trip.