Food trend watchers are predicting that, in 2009, people will be focusing more on back-to-basics, going for comfort foods, cooking from scratch, and nostalgic foods like those Mamma and Grandmamma made, as they rein in food spending.
Interestingly, although food trend watchers predict a decrease in organic food buying, they foresee, at the same time, that the focus on nutrition and natural health choices will increase. Do you see a dichotomy here?
“Free food’ is seen as becoming more popular, with foraging [let’s all go find vegetables in Central Park– do they still have those foraging tours?], and freeganism (that practice of “dumpster-diving”, foraging for discarded, but still edible foods that have been thrown away) increasing in popularity.
Now, what can you do?
JOIN A CSA: The first thing I would do is sign up for a CSA membership. Community Supported Agriculture organizations provide weekly deliveries of fresh organic vegetables directly from a local farm. The cost of a 6 month CSA membership (usually from June through October or November) works out cheaper than what you would be paying for organic vegetables in a market. Since I joined the CSA 2 years ago, I have had more than enough vegetables and fruit (sometimes I have to dehydrate what I cannot get to), and, with the winter extension (25 lbs. every 3 weeks, December through March for @ $140), I have been able, most weeks, to avoid a trip to the supermarket entirely. Yes, sometimes, I do supplement, if I want an avocado, or some oranges, or if I need dates, raisins, or nuts.
INVEST IN A DEHYDRATOR: My dehydrator is the best investment I have ever made (okay, I love my Champion juicer and my VitaMix). I can dehydrate leftovers (leftover sauces can be dehydrated then powdered to make instant sauces for later), and make snacks, patties, fruit leathers, chips, and crackers. I can take advantage of seasonal prices and snap up vegetables I love, and dehydrate them for use throughout the year (I get 40 lbs of tomatoes in the late summer from my CSA, and dehydrate most of them to have “sundried” tomatoes and tomato powder for sauces and seasoning throughout the winter. You don’t have to be rich to have a dehydrator – you just have to want one. I live on a limited budget in a tiny apartment –- I saved for several months to be able to by my $250 Excalibur 5-tray model with a timer and a temperature control, and I keep the dehydrator on a microwave cart in the hallway near the kitchen. I recommend getting an Excalibur simply because you are going to be using your dehydrator a lot, and Excalibur, with its front-loading trays, is much easier to use than the cheaper stacking kinds of dehydrators)
SHOP AT FARMERS’ MARKETS: Often, the farmer’s markets can offer vegetables and fruit at cheaper prices than regular markets can (Do you homework: know the prices at your local markets so that, when you venture into the farmer’s market, you know whether you are getting a bargain or not.
BUY SEASONAL VEGETABLES AND FRUIT: Seasonal vegetables and fruit are normally cheaper in season than when they are not in season and must be transported from far away places where they are in season. You can also buy large quantities of vegetables and fruit when they are in season and dehydrate them to be able to enjoy them later.
Of course, you could also consider joining a freegan group and going out dumpster-diving late at night with like-minded people.