There’s nothing worse than knowing that once that winter frost hits, tomatoes are going to go through the roof. I mean, I love the bright sun, the warm days and the late nights that come with the summertime, but I’ma keep it real. The best thing that summer can do for me is bring the price of tomatoes down to $1.29 per pound.
I get so used to enjoying a tomato every day, that I tend to shed a tear when the price goes up. Just one.
Let’s look at produce practically. In short, someone has to grow it.
Certain fruits and vegetables can only be grown in certain climates… that’s why certain locations are “known” for certain types of produce – Florida Oranges, Georgia Peaches… some places just do what they do relatively well. You won’t find Minnesota bragging about their winter strawberries.
Let’s say that you live in… some place that gets snow. Snowville, USA. Provided you don’t have some awesome locavore or CSA network that you’re affiliated with (more on those later), you’re probably getting your produce from a grocery. That grocery knows that its patrons complain when they can’t have their beloved strawberries in the winter, so what does the grocery store do? They call up their folks in Florida, and ask them to ship some strawberries up north!
Florida then puts on its cape and tights, and says “I’m on my way!” Before you know it, a giant truck is on it’s way from Florida to Snowville to make sure that this grocery store has its strawberries for their patrons to enjoy. Remember, we’re Capitalists – the grocery store doesn’t want you to go elsewhere to get your strawberries, because they know that out of convenience, you’ll just keep shopping at your strawberry place for everything else.
When you pay for strawberries out of season, you’re paying for labor – it takes effort to get strawberries from Florida to Snowville – as well as the fuel used to drive them to you. Yes, you’re paying for the gas. That cost has to be passed on to someone, and why not the customer who insists on having strawberries out of season?
Remember the great gas hike of 2008? Remember how the news kept saying that it affected food prices, but no one understood why? We were paying for the extra cost of the food being shipped to the store. The grocery store for darn sure wasn’t going to pay for that. Interestingly enough, those people who were buying their produce locally and in-season were relatively unaffected by the hike. They weren’t paying for produce shipped a thousand miles away from where it was grown… or the gas bill that comes with it.
Buying in season means that the spring time brings you lots of lemons, spinach, turnips, strawberries, kale, lettuce, celery, peppers, peas and onions. The summer gives us artichokes, broccoli, cherries, peaches, sweet corn, cucumbers, honeydew melons, raspberries, tomatoes and watermelon. We can look forward to the fall for pears, plums, pumpkins, garlic, carrots, apples, squash and zucchini. The winter might not offer too much, but as for new veggies? I’ve grown to appreciate my collard greens, brussel sprouts, radishes and cabbage.
Buying your produce while it’s in season means that you’re most likely to purchase the product when it’s plentiful in your area.. which means sales! I mean, let’s keep it real – nothing made me happier today than to see this beautiful sight below:
Fifty cents a pound for green beans? Please believe the family will be having green beans in stir fry, breaded green beans as a side, baked green beans, whatever. I’ll get two pounds, freeze 75% of them and store them away… bringing them out when I feel like green beans for dinner. I won’t even tell you what I did when sweet potatoes got down to $0.29 per pound. Yes. Twenty-nine cents per pound. Yum.
To help you on your journey toward in-season shopping, I’ve pasted a relatively exhaustive list of what you should be able to find during each month of the year for cheaper. Good luck, and gimme a dollar! You should have plenty left over. 🙂
Spring Baby Lettuce
Sugar Snap Peas
Other posts in the series:
- Save Money On Groceries: Buy It In Bulk
- Save Money On Groceries: Buy It In Season
- Save Money On Groceries: Go Weekly
- Save Money On Groceries: Buy The Private Label (Go Generic!)
- Save Money On Groceries: Go Frozen!
- Q&A Wednesday: The $50 Challenge
- Save Money on Groceries: Go… Smaller?
- Save Money On Groceries: The Readers Share Their Tips!