Locavore on a Budget
Day one of my project started with an early morning car ride (my mother bright and chipper in the driver’s seat, me less than enthusiastic as I had foregone my usual 3 or 4 cups of Maxwell House Coffee out of dedication to the cause) to the Hingham Farmer’s market. I must admit, the coffee thing was not something I had anticipated. How am I supposed to eat entirely local for a day when there are necessary parts of my diet that cannot be found locally?
I was shy about asking such a seemingly self-evident question to the patron’s of the market and settled instead on my good friend Google. Short of creating my own greenhouse and growing my own coffee beans (something that would definitely not fit into my budget), unfortunately there is not really another way to go about drinking locally sourced coffee.
I cleared my conscience by settling on organic fair trade coffee. A sort of “global locavorism”, and no, that’s not an oxymoron.
Anyway, I ate a 1-dollar apple cider donut for breakfast while at the market. So far so good. I was pleasantly surprised by the inexpensive prices of the in-season vegetables and decided to buy some not just for the day, but for the week as well.
Then, my mother asked the crippling question,
“Doesn’t steak sound good for dinner sweetie? Look, they’re selling it right over there.”
Yes, it did. It sounded very good. My mouth salivated and my heart raced as I slowly, approached the white board sign dictating the meat prices for the day.
I was not shocked, but my heart dropped anyway when I got close enough to make out the numbers. Assuming that I would be consuming an 8 ounce cut, one serving would make it near impossible to stick to my 10 dollar budget for the rest of the day.
What a tragedy! The thought of a juicy sirloin on the grill, on that beautiful day, plagued me for the rest of my trip. Why is local meat so expensive and how can I get it to fit in my budget?
In short, local meat is more expensive because small local farmers are not sacrificing their humanity, their obligation to treat the environment and their animals well, and the quality of their product in order to give the public something cheaper. This I accept and understand, but the fact of the matter is that I just can’t afford it. What can I do and where can I go to make this work?
Honestly? I’ve found that one’s best bet is some good, old-fashioned research. Looking for a butcher that only sells local meat or a local farm that will cut the meat for you is a good start. Den Besten Farms in Bridgewater or Dufort Farms in Rehoboth are both good options. This way, you can check for specials or cheap cuts over the phone. As long as you’re not picky (and I’m not) you won’t be disappointed. Some of the cheaper cuts are often the most flavorful. This works better for me than waiting a week for the farmers market because of (again) the regularity in which you can check for prices.
I also suggest investing your time in learning how to cook some of the cheaper “thrift” cuts of meat. As I mentioned above, the inexpensive cuts are often the most flavorful and I personally really enjoyed learning how to cook a new cut of meat. I tried a 7-bone chuck roast over the weekend and it was delicious and quite inexpensive. Too much work? Consider becoming a vegetarian.
If you want more information on the farms mentioned above, here are their websites:
Den Besten Farms, Bridgewater www.denbestenfarm.com
Dufort Farms, Rehoboth www.dufortfarms.com
Submitted by Sasha Laferte