fruit & veggie crunching

June 19, 2009

I’ll shop for food over clothes any day.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I tried something on in a store or lusted after a pair of shoes in a window.  But almost every day I’ll find myself eyeing up an avocado or giving a mango a squeeze.

I spread my food shopping across various sources: farmer’s markets, grocery stores, fruit stalls, and, occasionally, vegetable-box delivery schemes – otherwise known as CSAs in the US.  I used to do the box thing a lot, and in fact even started a catering business around it a few years ago.  But the truth is I just love the hands-on food-shopping experience.  I also got tired of so many onions and potatoes.

Anyway, I thought I’d do a little price comparison this week.  Because I don’t buy the same things at every place – the point is to spread my pickings out – this is, pardon the pun, comparing apples and oranges.  But it does give an idea of how much I spend, not to mention how expensive life in the UK is.  Still, I can’t imagine what I’d be spending if I were eating out all the time.

First up, a grocery store trip plus fruit stall fly-by.  Here’s what we’ve got:


1 mini watermelon
2 small heads lettuce
1 box strawberries
1 box blueberries
10 flat peaches (utterly heavenly)
6 vine tomatoes
1 box cherry tomatoes
Big bag ‘o carrots
4 limes
3 romano peppers (how beautiful are they?)
5 honey mangoes (be still, my beating heart)

Total cost: £25.79  ($42.50)  YIKES!

Still, that’s a lot food.  I should point out that the limes are the only organic item here.  The strawberries, lettuce and tomatoes are all British. Everything else except for the mangoes is grown on the Continent.

Okay, next up, my farmer’s market trip last week:


1 large head lettuce
1 large bunch asparagus
4 beets (for bedazzling smoothies, tops and all)
2 large bunches spinach
1 large bag garden peas (fun to peel and wonderful raw)
1 bunch celery
9 vine tomatoes
4 boxes strawberries (not shown, see previous pic)

Total cost: £15.50  ($25.57) DEAL!

All of the above are grown a few miles outside London. Double deal.

Lastly, while I haven’t used them in a while, I thought I’d take a quick peek at the prices at Riverford Organic.  Their fruit and veg box contains:

broad beans
cherry vine tomatoes
kohl rabi
pointed cabbage
portobello mushrooms
aubergine (eggplant)

Total cost: £14.95 ($25) including delivery.  Wow.

Everything except the aubergine and bananas are homegrown.  And not an onion or potato in sight.  Well.  This is tricky.  While the Riverford site states that this box feeds 3-4 people, I wonder who they are basing this on and on how many days.  You’ll also notice that my first picture is heavy on the fruit while the farmer’s market trip leans towards the veg.  This box does balance them out.

My head hurts.

I’ve never been good at numbers, but I do know one thing: portfolio.  Rotation, rotation, rotation.  Spreading an investment, whether stocks or stalks, is always a good idea.  And you can always bet on the latter.  Result: I’ll continue to not put all my veg in one bike basket.

p.s.  I’m curious to know how the prices in the US compare, so if any bloggers there want to do a similar thing, that would be very cool – please let me know if you do.  Happy weekend!

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  1. Jess June 21, 2009 at 07:39

    So great to hear from you, Linda! And thank you for this thoughtful post. That is astonishingly good value. Please remind me where you live again.

  2. Jess June 21, 2009 at 07:38

    Welcome, Earth Mother! I’m having your watermelon cooler as I type this…deelish. Where are you located?

  3. Acme June 21, 2009 at 00:12

    Here’s my list:

    Today at the fruit market: 2 big cucumbers…50 cents each

    Yesterday at the grocery store: 3 heads of lettuce…69 cents each

    Last week at the fruit market: 16 pounds cherries…$1.99 a pound. Yes, you read right, 16 pounds! I canned most of Sunday; 2 quarts of cherry pie filling, 3 pints of cherry jam, and a double batch of cherry cranberry walnut chutney. I still 2 pounds left. I sell at fruit markets and give away as presents. Also bought 15 limes for $1, 5 lemons for $1. I juice these and freeze in ice cube trays.

    Last Monday; 2 pounds of really sweet strawberries…99 cents a pound

    About 6 weeks ago: A case of speckled bananas for $1…I peel and freeze these…great for smoothies, just like having ice cream in my smoothie. Also bought about 4 pounds of seedless green grapes at 50 cents a pound, also used for smoothies.

    This is a short list; I haven’t mentioned onions, peppers, etc. I really take advantage of seasonal fruits and veggies and I am blessed to live in a area that has lots of farmer’s markets and flea markets so there’s lots of choice and low prices. Jessica knows I really enjoy food…and I love your frequent postings!

  4. earthmother June 20, 2009 at 21:17

    Yikes is right! I was just doing a tally in my head, but I don’t think I’d spend $42 (US) if I combined the first and second list of items.

    Ouch. Feel for you.

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