Locavore on a Budget
Okay, so let’s talk about something a little simpler this week: what you can do to save easy green at a farmers market (the bills, not the plants).
I’m talking about sales, coupons, food stamps (SNAP/EBT) and good ol’fashioned trading. Coupon clipping has become a national hobby, pastime, and fascination, who knew this supermarket strategy could be applied to your local farmers’ market?
Surprisingly, many local farmers markets accept these. Massachusetts is especially helpful as there are so many government-funded programs catering to healthy, local living.
Massachusetts has a farmer’s market coupon program for low income and WIC (women infants and children) families in the federal supplemental food program. There is also a “Fruit and Veggie Prescription Program” for pregnant women and overweight children. Each program gives out coupons to farmers’ markets in attempt to help families while improving local economy. If you or your family fit into either of these categories check out http://www.mass.gov/agr/markets/farmersmarkets/coupons.htm or http://wholesomewave.org/fvrx/ respectively. Some farmers’ markets also accept food stamps (now called EBT/SNAP benefits). The Plymouth Farmers Market at Plimoth Plantation is one of many.
Many doctors’ offices, college campuses and senior citizen centers also hand out coupons for their members.Bentley University and UMass Dartmouth go as far as hosting their own farmers’ markets for their students. If you belong to any of the aforementioned groups contact the appropriate committee to inquire.
If your group doesn’t already have a program for this, insist that they get one; many places like this make decisions to offer coupons or make deals with farmers’ markets after they realize there is a demand for it.
For those of us that do not belong to any of the groups above, there is still a way to get good food cheap. Deal sites such as Groupon or Square as well as the markets themselves sometimes offer promotional coupons. This can be checked by calling or checking the website for the market ahead of time. This little bit of work can go a long way as, if you know that there will be a coupon or sale on a certain item, you can plan your meals around it.
Can’t find a proper coupon? Bring something of your own to the market, look into what it takes to set up a table. Maybe you’re a great knitter or talented baker, bring something homemade that other farmers are interested in and get some free local food. Though I have never done this myself, I have seen various farm stands trading their products at the end of the market.
On the topic of the end of the market, it’s always a good idea to wait to the market’s closing to see what vegetables tables want to get rid of. The prices of these will most likely go down on their own or you can haggle for them.
That’s all I have to say, stop reading and start clipping!
Submitted by Sasha Laferte