Buying in Bulk
When you buy groceries for 6 people, it makes sense to buy in bulk.
I don't mean "Costco bulk." It's important to us that the money we spend supports our moral framework, which Costco and other warehouse-like superstores don't. We want our spending habits to support fair wages and working conditions, stewardship of the environment, and the local economy.
So, how do we buy in bulk within our moral framework? We buy products produced locally, from locally-owned and operated vendors who provide fair wages and working conditions for their employees. Where we can, we buy products from "happy" animals and from farms that don't use any kind of chemical sprays.
What does buying locally and in bulk look like, practically?
It looks like bringing home box after box of cheap, locally-grown "bruised" peaches from the farmer's market. We diced them and froze them -- we stored away something like 7 or 8 gallon Ziploc bags with diced peaches. We went blueberry picking as a community and harvested 5 or 6 gallon bags of local organic blueberries. It's well into the winter and I'm still eating local fruit for breakfast.
It looks like buying a whole wheel of North Carolina Hoop Cheese (produced in Ashe County, NC) from Durham's new specialty cheese shop, Reliable Cheese. Reliable is very local -- it's about 4 blocks from our house! A whole wheel of hoop cheese can be grated (with the food processor, whew!) and frozen in about 7 gallon Ziploc bags. In addition to saving money on the cheese (Reliable gave us a 20% discount for buying the whole wheel), we now have easily-accessible grated cheese useful for any occasion. And as a bonus: I got to ride home from Reliable with a wheel of cheese on the back of my bike!
It looks like buying a 1/4 cow. A friend from CrossFit knows a farmer just outside of Durham who raises happy, pasture-raised beef. He arranged to buy a whole cow and split it among friends. We went in on a whole 1/4, which is somewhere around 180lbs of beef. It cost us around $4.50/lb, which is strikingly inexpensive for happy, pasture-raised beef. We store it in a little chest freezer, which sits in place of our clothes dryer (we hang our clothes to dry instead). We now eat beef about once or twice a week. At this rate, our quarter cow will last the community a whole year!
If you have a little storage space and some time to preserve things, buying in bulk can be an inexpensive way to support the local economy and fair-treatment of both people and animals.