Hello Garden Gals & Guys! If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that one of my goals is to not have to shop at a grocery store for anything except sundries (and eventually find other sources for those as well…I already know how to make my own laundry detergent).

Well, all goals begin with a single step….and I am taking it this April. The opening of a new farmers market  nearby (which will also be the largest in Anne Arundel county) has  given me the inspiration. So, beginning this April, I will buy all of my foodstuffs only from local farms and farmers markets. The only items that will be purchased from the grocery store will be sundries…and I will be researching other sources for these as well.

So, what does this mean? Well, for one thing, it means that I am giving back to my local economy, and that’s

exciting. Voting where my dollars go means I am choosing to tell “big ag” that I won’t buy into their unsustainable food growing practices. It also means I will be getting meats and vegetables from farmers that I have met, so I know what we are putting into our bodies. On a side note, many of  you may know that I took up hunting to take charge of where our meat comes from, but this past season someone stole our hunting stand and that put a huge damper on providing our own meat for the year. I cringe every time I buy meat from the grocery store…even if it says “all natural” or “organic” because those labels are more propaganda than anything else.

Buying locally also means a lot of planning. Meals need to be planned ahead of time so that I can shop at  my local markets to get what I need for the upcoming week. It also means looking ahead to buying vegetables to supplement what I can’t grow in my backyard (due to space constraints) and canning veggies to store for the winter. It also means buying meat in bulk so that when the markets close down for the season around November, I have enough meat in our freezers to get us through the winter months (and hopefully this hunting season we will be successful and will have meat to add to whatever we purchase).

I’m a little nervous.

Why? Well, my first concern is that meat from farmers markets is “more expensive” than in stores. I hate to use that term though. Really, the meat in the grocery store is more expensive when you factor in the doctor bills you are sure to have to pay from the health problems caused by all the chemicals, antibiotics, and drugs they pump into the animals you eat. So I’m really paying the farmer now, so I don’t have to pay the doctor later. But we’ll still feel it in the wallet for a bit until we get sufficiently stocked up. (For those saying just stop eating meat….I would say the meat isn’t the issue…it’s how the meat is being raised that causes problems…but that’s a whole different argument.)

My second concern is that I don’t know how to can….yet. I have a canner and all the supplies I need. I even have a book on how to can. However, I learn best by watching someone else do it. I would feel more comfortable having someone show me how to can so that I don’t get it wrong and ruin an entire season’s worth of produce. I can’t afford for this to happen if I really want to get through the winter months. So, I have to find someone that knows how to can and have them teach me. This will prove a bit difficult, since canning is somewhat of a lost art. But I won’t let that stop me.

My third concern is something I mentioned earlier: planning. Some days I plan out my meals ahead of time…and some days I don’t. But if I go this route, I not only have to plan out my meals to know what to buy, but I have to plan out my meals so that I can take whatever meat I need out to thaw. This concern is the lowest on my totem pole, because I can just sit down and write out a menu for the week and then shop for what I need. I just have to not be a slacker on this one. 🙂

A fourth concern is recipes! I have made my own butter before, but I need recipes for jams and chutneys. A quick google search will yield millions of hits, I’m sure, but not all recipes taste good. I’m looking for tried-and-true good tasting recipes. If you have any you care to share, please leave a comment!

I found a neat little book about one woman’s journey to stop shopping the conventional way. I’m excited to read this book to see how she did it. I’ll take all the help I can possibly get.

So this is my journey. As I write this, I realize there may be some things I have to get from the store like peanut butter and pasta. We eat a lot of peanut butter and I just don’t enjoy the “natural” peanut butters. I could make my own pasta but, realistically, will I have time? I also don’t have the pasta maker attachment for the kitchen aid, which is rather pricey. So this is what I have so far.

Have you cut the grocery store ties? If so, please leave a comment and tell me how you did it. Suggestions, tips, tricks, and even questions are welcome! Let’s grow on this journey together.

Here’s to April!

Until next time garden gals and guys….

Happy gardening!