1235 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee FL •  850.942.2557

Buying Produce on a Budget

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By Crystal Wakoa

There’s a heartbreaking scene in the must-see movie Food, Inc., in which a poor, immigrant family regretfully opts for calorie heavy, cheap, fast-food burgers over the budget-breaking supermarket vegetables they yearn for. The family’s low-income wages and long work hours at a meat packing factory, coupled with the high price of the dad’s medicines, are the main factors steering them away from a healthy diet.

The movie, if you haven’t seen it, will make you want to run for the vegetable aisle. But what might you find there? Strawberries in winter, Chilean grapes, perfect tomatoes from Holland. Produce picked green, packed into ships and trucks, traveling an average of 1,500 miles to the supermarket shelf. By the time you pull it out of your fridge for dinner, you’ve traded your vegetables’ vitality, flavor and nutritional punch for a whopper of a carbon footprint. Not a very good deal for you or your planet.

Thankfully, it’s easy to buy produce in Tallahassee without breaking your budget. Here’s how:

Eat in Season. In-season fruits and veggies are abundant, busting with flavor and nutritional value and affordable. North Florida’s year-round growing season means there’s always plenty to choose from. This fall and winter, shop for beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, collards, kale, mustard greens, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, potatoes, spinach, turnips, strawberries, garlic and all varieties of lettuce.

Buy Local. Locally-grown produce enjoys a longer ripening period before being picked, so it is fresher and tastes better than produce that’s been trucked across the country. Supplying us with local fare, we are blessed with not only New Leaf Market, but at least seven bountiful, community-building farmers’ markets conveniently located all over Tallahassee (see sidebar.) Please support them! The advantages of buying from local farmers are many and ripple throughout the whole community: less pollution, fewer pesticides, less likelihood of contamination (like salmonella), greater variety of produce, more money in the farmers’ pockets, community-sharing, and nutritionally-superior food, to name a few.

Start a Container Garden. It’s easy, cheap, and there’s no better way to ensure that your food was grown locally and without pesticides than to tend your favorite vegetables yourself. Collards, kale and lettuce are almost fail-proof. September is the perfect month to get started.

Local Growers’ Markets

MONDAYS
11 am-2 pm, Sunshine Growers’ Market at the Southwood Office Complex on Esplanade Way
3 pm-5:15 pm, Green Grocers Growers’ Market at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, 2600 Blair Stone Road

TUESDAYS
3 pm-7 pm, Tuesday Farmers’ Market at Purple Martin Nurseries on Crawfordville Highway

WEDNESDAYS
11 am-1 pm, Tupelo’s Growers’ Market at Tupelo’s Bakery & Café in downtown Monticello
3 pm-dusk, Growers’ Market at Lake Ella, behind Black Dog Cafe

THURSDAYS
11 am-1 pm, Green Market at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Commonwealth Boulevard

FRIDAYS
3 pm-5:40 pm, Apalachicola Growers’ Market at the corner of Market Street and Avenue D in Apalachicola

SATURDAYS
11 am-1 pm, Tupelo’s Growers’ Market at Tupelo’s Bakery & Café in downtown Monticello

 

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