Locally produced veggies and herbs are a treat to your wallet and body. If you don't have a garden, look around your community to find a good supplier. Local farms, farmer's markets, and Co-Ops are a great place to start. If your neighbor has a garden, they may have extra food they would be delighted to share with you!
We supplement our food budget with a good-sized garden and grow many other edibles on our 3/4 acre yard. We're big fans of vertical and raised bed gardens, but we have traditional direct-sow layouts, as well. If you have the luxury of space, do consider starting your own gardens. Not only does it help your food budget, the extra edibles are always appreciated around the neighborhood! If you can't grow your own, be sure to visit your local farmer's markets and local produce suppliers. The food is fresh and your local economy will appreciate the business.
Check your community to find out if there is a farmer's co-op. Some co-ops sell memberships that provide bulk deliveries of produce that is in season for an annual fee. The savings can be significant!
Start a community garden or join a CSA (community supported agriculture) if you can't have a garden in your own yard, house, apartment, camper, or tent!
Do not pick fruits or vegetables with significant bug damage, mold, or that is limp. Select firm, crisp veggies.
Sniff check! If it smells funky or off, don't take it.
Feel for soft spots, but don't damage the produce as some types can be very delicate.
Pumpkins, pears, and many other types of produce ripen from the inside out. Push with your thumb gently on the top near the stem. If it's soft, it's ripe.
Remember: When in doubt, throw it out!
Storing Fresh Greens
Green leafy vegetables may be bought in bulk while in season and then frozen for later use. Most veggies must be blanched and drained before being sealed into freezer bags and frozen.
Blanch green beans, peas, and other small veggies in preparation for freezing. Lay out the veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze until the individual veggies are solid. Lightly pack the frozen vegetables into freezer bags, expel all air, and seal. These will last up to 1 year in a closed bag in the freezer.