Eat Cheap: Farmstands in the Country

We often praise local farms and producers for the quality of their produce, the seasonal glory that they bring to our tables, the organic principles and ethics that can raise our food above the common level.

But did we mention that buying direct from local farms can also be cheap?

We paid a visit to a farmstand out in the Ohio countryside last Saturday. It's a farmstand in the small town where I grew up, and I have often picked apples in the farm's public orchards. It's always a bit of nostalgia, visiting the apple farm, and we stopped in last Saturday for a snack of apples and a look-see around their big roadside tent.

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Well, were we in for a shock! Butternut squash was going for a dollar apiece (not a pound) and acorn squash would run you seventy-five cents. Some of the bigger, showier pumpkins were more expensive, but still not much by city standards.

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And the stand wasn't all about autumn staples of apples and gourds; there were late radishes, plenty of beets, three kinds of cabbage, Asian pears, onions, potatoes, and more. The Asian pears often run us $1.50 apiece at Whole Foods; here they were $2 a pound.

And all of this was grown right there on the farm! No peeking at labels, trying to figure out how far this particular pear has been flown.

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We staggered off with a basket of food that would last us a week or more - all to the tune of $20. We were inspired by Emma's post on buying vegetables in bulk, so we plan on a return visit next weekend to stock up on a bushel of apples, a few dozen squash, and other vegetables.

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The moral of the story is: get out of the city! Yes, we want to support the farmers who come to our urban farmers market, but when stocking up in bulk, that same produce can often be had for much less out in the country. When you go to the farm it naturally cuts down on the farmers' costs.

So if you're looking to cut some costs (maybe trying to eat on $25/week?) and stock up this fall, go out to the country. Not only will you feel refreshed and a little more connected with the place your food comes from, but we have a hunch you'll spend a little less too.

• If you're anywhere in the Central Ohio area, the farm where we were is called Lynd's. Check it out here.

• Not in Ohio? Find a farm near you at Local Harvest.

Related: On Visiting Farms

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