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Part IV » GROCERIES - Fresh from the Farm
Throughout the grocery section I’ve been telling you how to save at the supermarket, but sometimes the best way to save is by skipping the supermarket. You can save more than a thousand dollars a year by going whole hog – or beef, or broccoli. In other words, by purchasing an entire pig, cow or lamb and then having it delivered to you in its familiar cut form. You can also buy shares of a farmer’s vegetable crop that you receive weekly. Not only do you save money, you get the extra benefit of eating fresh, local foods.

Community Supported Agriculture

Let’s start with fresh-from-the-farm veggies. “Community Supported Agriculture” or “CSAs” are groups of people who band together to buy fresh produce from a local farmer. Every week during the growing season, you get a share of the farmer’s crop. The farmer selects the items that are the most ripe and ready.

The produce is usually delivered to a central spot, like a community center or church, where you pick it up. Many groups were started decades ago by hippies ahead of their time who wanted organic foods. More recently, as commercial produce prices have gone up, average folks have jumped on the band wagon – or vegetable cart.

For a Good Morning America story, I visited a CSA in Sandy Spring, Maryland where members get fresh, beautiful produce 21 weeks a year. Their cost is $28 per week for a big box of nine different things. Carolyn H. (a yuppie –not a hippie!) told me she joined to get pesticide-free produce for her kids, but soon realized she was saving money too. I compared prices with a local organic grocery store and she was right.

Benefit of Buying Fresh Vegies from a Farmer
Grocery store price for 9 organic vegetables: $39.96
CSA price for 9 organic vegetables: $28.33
Dollar Savings= $11.63

Cha ching! That’s about $250 a year. Farmers benefit too, because they have a guaranteed market for their products.

The CSA we profiled has a website where new members can sign up. Others may be more or less formal. You can look up CSAs in your area at

But to really SAVE BIG by buying fresh from the farm, you need to include meats as well.

BIG SECRET: Where to Find Organic Coupons
The best source of organic food coupons is the manufacturer’s own website. You can also call the customer service number and express admiration for the product and they will often send you coupons. Last chance, there is one website that does a good job of compiling many different organic and green coupons:

Meats Fresh From the Farm

I can remember my parents buying a side of beef when I was a kid and stowing it in the deep freeze in our laundry room. It’s an idea that has come around again, this time with wonderful grass fed beef and other meats. When I did a story on this trend, I was astounded to meet David and MaryAnn F. of Washington, DC, who live in a narrow row house and managed to stash a half a cow in their basement -- the basement freezer, that is.

Buying your own beef cow used to be for rural and suburban people, but anybody with freezer space can try it. David and MaryAnn bought a smallish upright freezer for an investment of just $375. That easily stored a half a cow, made into familiar cuts of meat. Ranchers estimate that much meat will feed a family of four for a year.

The meat itself cost $2,000. That’s a lot of money, and the disadvantage is that you have to pay it all up front. On the flip side, when food costs fluctuate, your price is locked in. In fact, the night I visited David and MaryAnn, they were enjoying a couple of New York Strip steaks. Here’s how much they saved on their meal:

Benefit of Going Whole Hog
Grocery store price for grass fed New York Strip (2.5lbs): $40.50
Farm price for grass fed New York Strip (2.5 lbs): $15.75
Dollar Savings= $24.75

Wow, 61-percent savings! Of course, the percentage saved on cheaper cuts like ground beef, is not as dramatic. Still, David estimated he was saving $1,500 a year on meat. Other typical prices: a whole hog for $500, a whole lamb for $270. Other families have even found ways to purchase whole fish straight from the boat. The best way to find these opportunities is a quick web search including the name of your town, because part of the point of this wildcard method is to buy locally. One other possibility:

BIG SECRET: Another Way to Save Is to Eat Less Meat, Poultry and Fish
Nutritionists advise us to eat just 9 ounces of animal protein in a sitting. You know, the old advice about a portion the size of a deck of cards? Most of us eat twice that. It’s not just a way of slimming down your waist line. It’s also a way to slim down your wallet. Meat, poultry and fish are some of the most expensive categories at the store.

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