Following a trend that has been developing all across the nation for the past few years, it looks like Arizona’s 2015 food trends will involve a fair amount of green. In Arizona, where agricultural innovations have led to a $17.1-billion food, fiber and ornamental plant industry, that green is produce straight from the farm and full of all the vitamins, minerals and rare earth elements Nature intended.
Whether it’s celery, bok choy, or leeks, vegetables grown in good earth, watered with clean water, picked at the height of ripeness and shipped no more than a dozen miles to the nearest Arizona farmer’s market – or delivered direct to residents via more than a dozen Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) services – this “farm fresh food” offers families and individuals the opportunity to eat as if it really mattered. Because it does.
The other green is money, of course, since eating fresh, local, and in season can be more expensive than fast food or packaged meals and dinners, depending on where you shop. But isn’t your family worth the added cost? Especially when that amount can be easily carved out of the weekly budget.
- If you currently spend $200 a week for a family of four, selectively buying fresh, local produce will cost you an additional $24. If you skip your daily Starbucks boost and bring coffee from home in a thermos (fancy fixings on the side), you can save that and more.
- Carpool. The average commute now costs – hang on to your hat – $43,000! Even one other person halves that. Divide by four? Well, you get the picture…
- Pack a lunch instead of buying one and you can save a whopping $40 a week. Plus, you know where your food is coming from. With what you save, you can branch out into some locally grown tangerines, grapefruit, or those intensely sweet little oranges called Clementines. Find these and other treats on the Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate website, which will also direct you to the more than 200 farmer’s markets and CSAs, one of which is sure to be close to where you live. Many are also open all year long.
- Shrink your meal-planning horizons. In this sedentary era of computers, humans don’t need the kind of caloric intake common 100 years ago. Instead, think in terms of toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, a salad, and fresh green beans vinaigrette for dinner. Take leftovers as lunch.
- Foodies know that plan-ahead meals not only taste better but also save beaucoup bucks! Take 90 minutes to make and freeze a week’s worth of entrees – and here’s where farmer’s-market shopping comes in handy, because how else are you going to use up that basket of beans you bought? Fortunately for you, Fill Your Plate also has recipes.
You probably won’t have the time to visit an Arizona farmer’s market every weekend, but you can rest assured of your family’s health knowing that many Arizona grocers buy the same locally grown fruit and produce that you do. So go shopping and enjoy the green bounty of Arizona in 2015!