For most college students, grocery shopping is probably pretty easy–you buy the cheapest version of what you like, right? Buying food sustainably takes quite a bit more time and consideration. We care about supporting food that is fair for producers, consumers, and the environment. So, even sticking by a “100-mile diet” or eating all Organic produce isn’t necessarily the best option. I try to diversify our food sources so that we are eating sustainably as possible–while sticking to the average college student budget. One way to do this is by eating as a community. Here’s the main categories of our food sources:
Local Farmers Markets In the fall we frequent the new North Village Arts District Artisans and Farmers Market on Sundays. Now that it’s winter we’ll be visiting the Columbia Farmers Market indoors at Parkade Plaza.
Bulk (Blue Planet) At the beginning of the semester we bought over 100 pounds of beans, lentils, and other dry goods through the buying club Blue Planet (through Peaceworks). Since we bought in bulk we reduced the amount of packaging used and paid a much lower price than regular retail. We’re still chowing down on the oats, pinto beans, chick peas (for hummus!) and quinoa (a great source of protein) that we bought in September. This helps keep the cost of our meals between $2-6 per person.
Local Grocery Stores When we do have to buy food from a more conventional source, we try to support local, small businesses. Doing this supports the local economy by keeping money spent in the community. We buy products like Tofu, Tempeh, Yogurt, and Milk from Clovers Natural Market.
Bounty Box (CCSA) Combined Community Supported Agriculture allows us to receive food from multiple sustainable farms throughout Missouri, as opposed to a CSA in which you only receive goods from one farm. We do this through the Root Cellar’s Winter Bounty Box Program. Each week we pay $30 for a box of local goodies, like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, celery, and even goat cheese (!)
Conventional Grocery Stores Everyone has to go there once in awhile. When shopping at HyVee or Gerbes we try to identify where the products are coming from, whether or not they are Organic, how much packaging they have, and the amount of processing the product took to produce. HyVee and Gerbes also have great bulk buying sections if you’re not ready to commit to Blue Planet just yet.