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

NewbieGardener 3 years, 1 month 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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Karrey Britt 3 years, 1 month ago

Good question. My husband actually likes eggs and I don't. So, I will have to ask him if there's a big difference in taste. I do prefer to buy cage-free eggs. I will ask him tonight and let you know.

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Jessica Schilling 3 years, 1 month ago

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

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Emily Hampton 3 years, 1 month 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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Karrey Britt 3 years, 1 month ago

I spent about two hours last night comparing prices at Checker's, Dillons, Hy-Vee, Wal-Mart, the farmers' market and The Merc. A story will be coming soon.

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DCCDA 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for doing that Karrey! I was going to do the same thing, so I'd love to see all of your results, especially price and selection comparisons of local food found at each place.

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bramey 3 years, 1 month ago

Many cities have price disparities from one part of town to the next within the same store (ie;. Dillons on Mass vs, Dillons on W. 6th.) In many cases food is actually cheaper in the more economically affluent parts of towns. Has anyone heard of any results from studies like that in Lawrence?

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bramey 3 years, 1 month ago

Many cities have price disparities from one part of town to the next within the same store (ie;. Dillons on Mass vs, Dillons on W. 6th.) In many cases food is actually cheaper in the more economically affluent parts of towns. Has anyone heard of any results from studies like that in Lawrence?

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Kyle Chandler 3 years, 1 month 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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Katara 3 years, 1 month 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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Karrey Britt 3 years, 1 month ago

Thanks for all of the tips! These are all very helpful. I need to do more cooking and baking — just seems like there's never enough time in the day. It also seems like the bread, hummus and yogurt would be hard to make. Am I wrong? I do enjoy making low-fat pumpkin and banana bread in the fall and winter, but I am sure those are much easier.

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Katara 3 years, 1 month ago

You can do a lot of prep work over the weekends and store the pre-measured and prepped ingredients to have whenever you need. With a lot of recipes, you can put them together ahead of time and store in a freezer bag or tupperware.

The bread recipe says it only takes a total of 2 1/2 hrs from start to finish so I don't think it can be that hard.

Hummus does not look to be very hard to make. The worst part would be cooking the chickpeas but you can buy those canned and use those instead to cut down on time. If you don't have a food processor, I've found a blender works just as well. http://humus101.com/EN/2006/10/14/hummus-recipe/

I've heard yogurt is easy to make but that was from people who have a yogurt maker. This lady made yogurt in her crockpot and it is something I may try. I like the idea of creating my own flavors. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/10/you-can-make-yogurt-in-your-crockpot.html

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Kris Adair 3 years, 1 month 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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