Community Supported Agriculture
What a find when I saw Grow Youngstown’s flyer about Community Supported Agriculture. I could get locally grown, fresh organic vegetables through a farm share! From early June through September, I would pick up a bushel full of organic fruits and vegetables at a consistent, specified location straight from Steve Beck’s farm. My pickup location was in Girard, just off Belmont and Rt. 11. Next season Grow Youngstown will expand to Downtown Youngstown and potentially Boardman/Canfield pending interest in those areas. Membership fills up quickly contact them soon. It has been a wonderful experience, with nice people and very affordable.
A great advantage of living in our area is access to Amish farms where their animals are raised without antibiotics and hormones. Since it is too difficult for me to drive out to PA and visit these farms, I rely on the great team at Catullo Meats to supply meat from area Amish farmers. I love how Danny and the rest of his team remember my face and are so nice with customer service. I only need small portions for my daughter and myself but can easily fulfill large orders for my extended family. They will cut meat up for me, allow me to order over the phone and send e-mails with recipes and weekly specials (plus have coupons in the JB Dollar Stretcher magazine).
I have also found many of the brands sold at Whole Foods at Cindy’s Health & Vitality Center on the north side of town and Natural Health Foods on Market Street on the south side. There are often good sales at these small locations as well as natural bath and body products and health care. White House Fruit Farm is also a good place to find organic dairy as well as locally grown fruits (non-organic but locally grown is very healthy, too - a different topic altogether) in their Superstore. They have a stellar cheese selection.
Grocery Food Chains
I have been pleasantly surprised with the growing organic section at Giant Eagle. They were lowering the prices on some items (like frozen veggies and cream cheese) in the last six months but I just noticed they raised them again. This is disappointing because now I’ll have to take my coolers to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s in Pittsburgh or Cleveland when I visit friends there to stock up (which is what I was doing when I first moved here). They also have a good, private label Nature’s Basket selection. Unfortunately, their offering of organic fresh fruits and vegetables is spotty and one has to be diligent with inspecting items. They do have good specials on natural meats and I tend to purchase items only when they have the extra promotional discount and freeze them if I don’t immediately intend to cook with them. I’ll include Marc’s here because they are a large retailer. They have a consistent supply of fresh and packaged organic items that I have heard are often off of trucks that have finished delivering to Whole Foods (but are much cheaper at Marc’s). I don’t depend upon their flyer to tell me what they have, because they don’t often list much organic produce, but stop there almost weekly to see what is new. One thing I need to point out, they won't accept any coupons printed from the internet which keeps me from purchasing more from Marc's.
Just Start a Garden
I have to say that one of the things I love about being back in Youngstown is having a big backyard where I can plant a garden. It was so much fun to start some of my plants by seed (or buy starter plants at Lonardo’s, Home Depot or Lowe’s) and watch them grow all summer long. Talk about a cheap way to get organic! I will plan next year’s garden around the list of produce with the highest pesticides as much as possible.
Coupons Coupons Coupons
I save anywhere from $5-$10 using coupons for my organic purchases. All one has to do is register on their favorite brand’s website (this goes for almost any brand organic or not). Many brands have a “promotions/special offers/coupons” section or will e-mail you coupons once you register on their site. I have a separate e-mail address just for these sites to keep the spam at bay. My favorite sites are www.stonyfield.com, www.horizonorganic.com and www.organicvalley.com.
What do I need organic?
We are all trying to cut costs these days but want to be as healthy as possible. In general, dairy and meats are on the top of the list of organic food. I actually carry a card with me from the Environmental Working Group which lists the “dirty dozen” and “cleanest 12” for produce. The dirty dozen list is as follows Peaches, apples, sweet bell peppers, celery, nectarines, strawberries, cherries, lettuce, grapes (imported), pears, spinach and potatoes. You can print your own list here www.foodnews.org.
I’m sure there are other outlets for organic food in town and there are some I haven’t mentioned (mostly because they are much pricier than the above listed). I also know that some of our local farmers grow organic but haven't gone through the process of getting the USDA Organic seal which is fine with me. Please share your know-how on locally grown food (also very healthy) and organic food outlets, too!