One day Cathy and I walked into our local Giant grocery store, and as I walked in, the thought that struck me was: we could not stock up on food for the winter at that store. It is a HUGE grocery store but every thing is sold in small quantities. The selection of food is incredible. Apples are sold by the piece, but you can’t buy a bushel of apples. You can buy one sweet potato, but not a 50lb. bag.
We like to purchase as much as we can in 50lb bags. We buy the whole wheat grain and grind our own flour. Wheat, when it is made into flour, loses almost all of its vitamins in 72 hours.
Even cereal can be purchased in single serving bowls for $1 each. I realized that the HUGE grocery stores give the impression that there is an abundance of food to eat, but they have forced Americans to live hand to mouth by only being able to purchase small quantities at a time. They have also forced people to buy food the most expensive way possible – in small quantities. People find themselves running to the grocery store multiple times a week.
The grocery stores also function on a hand to mouth mentality. Most fruits and vegetables are not purchased locally and stored to be sold during the winter. Instead, there is a global dependence. Much of the fruits and vegetables that are produced locally are consumed in the summer months. For the rest of the year, we depend on other countries supplying much of our fruits and vegetables. We as a country are living hand to mouth, more dependent than we would like to admit, on other people all around the world supplying our food for us when we want it.
But the good news is that all is not doom and gloom. It is possible to eat local, eat healthy, and significantly cut your food costs. The key is to buy in season, in a large quantity, and store it for the winter. It is usually much cheaper buying a 50lb bag of potatoes or a bushel of apples than buying them by the individual potato or apple in the grocery store. When you buy it locally, you can find out how it was raised. When you buy those fresh fruits and vegetables one at a time in the grocery store in the middle of winter, you have no idea what unregulated pesticide might have been sprayed on it in that distant country on the other side of the world, even if it is called organic.
There is a real satisfaction in having food stored up for the winter. I enjoy opening the freezer and seeing it full of good food for us to eat this winter, or looking at the pantry shelves full of food that we raised ourselves and canned for the winter months. Our family has opted out of the hand to mouth mentality of purchasing our food in small quantities. We do not want to go back!
One of our freezers full of sweet corn, apple cider we made at our neighbor’s house, cucumber juice, peaches, and meat.
One of Cathy’s pantry shelves with peaches, tomato sauce, pickles, apple sauce, apple butter, apple pie filling, and beets.
Yukon Gold potatoes from our garden stored for the winter in our cellar.
If you want true pasture raised chickens to eat this winter, this fall is the time to stock up. Over a year ago, we upgraded to a heavier 2mil plastic bag for packaging the chickens and turkeys. That has improved the amount of time that the poultry can be held in the freezer without freezer burn. Cathy recently got some turkey soup bones out of the freezer from almost a year ago (last Thanksgiving). She did not find any freezer burn. Our biggest chicken customer likes to eat local all winter. They plan to have 100 chickens in the freezer to last until May. While that sounds like a lot of chickens, it is only about 4-5 chickens a week until the May 2011 chicken processing. That "customer" is our family. Yes, we eat a lot more than just chicken. When you set four hard working, growing boys down at the dinner table, it had better be more than just a salad!
Another one of our freezers full of home grown food – Chicken, green beans, and raspberry jam.