We're comparing prices, tastes after 'Eat Local Challenge' food shopping trip

I'm participating in the fourth annual Eat Local Challenge. Its goal is to encourage people to eat more local foods and support the local economy.

Last year was my first year to participate, and I earned a T-shirt by shopping at the Lawrence Farmers’ Market and by eating at Lawrence restaurants that use local ingredients.

This year’s Challenge started with a shopping trip on Sunday to The Merc Community Market and Deli, 901 Iowa, which has more than 800 locally-produced items. In 2010, The Merc purchases more than $1 million annually from more than 200 local producers. Fifty-two percent of the meat that's sold there is raised locally.

Here’s what I purchased for $24.14:

• A loaf of frozen Ezekiel low-sodium sprouted grain bread — $4.59.

• Pita chips — $2.55.

• Hummus — $3.99. It was made in Kansas City.

• Brown eggs — $3.39.

• Fat-free vanilla yogurt — $3.39.

• Peaches — $3.74. They were from Colorado.

• Cantaloupe — $2.49. Grown by a Lawrence farmer.

http://wellcommons.com/photos/2008/aug/05/152954/

I then finished my grocery shopping at the two nearby stores at which I usually shop. While in the stores, I wrote down the prices that I would have paid for the items above. The total came to $18.33, a savings of $5.81. But, none of the items were locally-produced.

Prices at the other grocery store:

• A loaf of frozen Ezekiel low-sodium sprouted grain bread — $3.59.

• Pita chips — $2.68.

• Hummus — $2.98.

• Brown eggs — $3.18.

• Fat-free vanilla yogurt — $2.69.

• Peaches — $1.22.

• Cantaloupe — $1.99.

The peaches look much better than their counterparts at the larger supermarket; I'll try them later. The cantaloupe's cut up and put it in the refrigerator — we'll try them tonight. The hummus was well worth the extra dollar.

Sunday’s shopping inspired me to do a more detailed comparison of basic local foods. How do they compare in price to those that come from elsewhere? More importantly, how do they taste?

Yesterday, I did a price comparison on the following items: tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, chicken, hamburger, milk and bread. We're doing a taste-test of the items, excluding the meat. I'll let you know the results of both later this week.

Oh — and back to what led me down this path. So far, I’ve earned one sticker on my Eat Local Challenge passport. I’ve got six more to go before I earn the prize — a $5 Lawrence Farmers Market token.

How are you doing?

Tagged: Eat Local Challenge

Comments

Kris Adair 2 years, 8 months ago

Both girls signed up for the challenge this year. We have most of our stickers needed and should be able to complete the challenge at the pot luck on Sunday.

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Katara 2 years, 8 months ago

You could have saved some money if you had used coupons on a couple of those items. There are many for organic and local items.

Stacy's pita chips (We love these!) put out coupons in the 6/26/11 Smart Source insert (found in your Sunday paper) for $.55/1.

Ezekial's is supposed to have coupons on their website but apparently it does not work to print them. However, you can call them or use the contact us button on the website & they will send you coupons in the mail. http://healthyhomeblog.com/2008/10/how-to-get-ezekiel-bread-coupons-food-for-life-coupons/

But you can make your own Ezekial bread, yogurt and hummus. And what gets more local than making your own things?

Ezekial bread recipe below. (you need to correct the salt amt to 2 tsp) http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/ezekiel-bread-i/detail.aspx

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Kyle Chandler 2 years, 8 months ago

I can def. vouch for that, Just by comparing Dillons on 23rd st. to Dillons on West 6th (WAY OUT THERE) the price differences are shocking. Especially in the organic food sections. The same item(s) from the Merc are still more expensive than any Dillons in town.

I guess the wealthy just need to stay wealthy....but hey i'll make the drive.

PS Im done with the Merc, i love many of the items they sell (Beelers Bacon!) but everything else is just cheaper at Dillons by 25% most of the time... anyway Trader Joes has me now, and the money i save makes up for the 25 min drive.

If there were one here in town, it would dominate.....organic food for Wal-Mart prices.?! Fuhgetaboutit!

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Emily Hampton 2 years, 8 months ago

So what would happen if you compared the exact same products at the Merc and at another grocery store such as Checkers? I have a feeling it would still be much cheaper at the "other grocery store." And once you add more to your cart than 7 items, you are saving a significant amount of money at the bigger store.

The Merc does a great job, but it is frustrating for most of the community that they are not given healthy options that are also at all affordable.

5$ is a lot of money for many.

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loudmouthrealist 2 years, 8 months ago

You are absolutely correct when you say that eggs in brown shells are no healthier than eggs in white shells, but... most free range eggs in stores are brown eggs and most white shell eggs in stores come from factory farmed caged hens.

Local free range hens verses factory/caged hens is the big difference in how healthy an egg is.

And if you are not convinced that local free range is better, than you should do a simple test yourself.

Crack open a factory farmed/caged hens egg and then crack open a free range hens egg next to it (preferably on a flat surface like a plate). Look at the yolks:

One (caged hens) will be sickly light yellow and the other (free range/local) will be much darker yellow. This difference in color is due to the diets of the birds. A healthier diet for the hen will make for a healthier egg for you.

also

One yolk (caged hen) will be almost flat and the other (local/free range) will be firm and sit much higher above the egg white. This is an indication of freshness. Per USDA regulation a store purchased egg can be 45 days old from the day it was packed into the egg carton before it is sold.

And if this is not enough proof then a simple taste test should convince you that the $ 3.00/dz local eggs are worth the extra expense.

And by the way, if you look on Craigslist, Farm and Garden,

http://lawrence.craigslist.org/search/grd?query=eggs&srchType=A&minAsk=&maxAsk=

you will find local free range eggs for as little $1.75/dz (and they are not mine, we eat all of our local, free range, urban back yard chicken eggs our self).

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Jessica Schilling 2 years, 8 months ago

That hummus is amazing - we burn through the cucumber variety at an alarming rate!

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Norma Jeane Baker 2 years, 8 months ago

Just curious? Why buy the brown eggs? I'm sure you realize that nutritionally they are the same as white. But if you enjoy paying more for a part of the egg that is thrown away...

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NewbieGardener 2 years, 8 months ago

My family is participating for the 1st time this year. So far we earned 1 stamp eating local food at Free State and we also took a picture of our garden for an eventual 2nd stamp. 5 more to go!

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