Cost Comparison: Coffee

April 16, 2012 Comments Off on Cost Comparison: Coffee

I didn’t start to drink coffee until I was in college. It was my bribe to hang out in the library. Go  to the library drink a coffee flavored milkshake. It seemed like a decent trade at the time.  Little did I know those coffee flavored milkshakes are quite the gate way drug. I’m already well on my way to french pressing my way to snobbery.

There’s a gamut of options to consider when finding your favorite coffee,is  it fair trade, what roast, what flavor, what region, local, non local, organic, non organic.  I haven’t been using my french press long enough to  to know the implications of each choice, so I won’t pretend.  My preference is for something local, fair trade, the flavor is mostly irrelevant  for me because I  frequently change what I am drinking. But if we’re being honest here, I also frequent Starbucks just as much as my local coffee house, which makes me just a little bit of a hypocrite. Although this mostly dictated by location. However my favorite by far is Trager Brothers coffee. When I was working my dismal job in the hospital it was the only thing that I looked forward to.

 

Blend 50 by Trager Brothers (local, organic, fair trade) at $11.99/pound  this is roasted locally in Nelson County Virginia and is honestly the best coffee I have ever had.

Whole Foods 365 Bulk (traditional and organic) $8.99 to $10.99/pound

Starbucks Sumatra (making an effort to be fair trade)$13.50/pound

Folgers (probably not fair trade) ~$8.96/per pound

For just a few dollars more you can really get a higher quality and potentially more ethical cup of joe.  Now you’ll say of the folgers only cost be $6.00, yes this is true, but they are also giving you less coffee about 11 or 12ounces, so the comparable cost  to many “premium” brands is actually closer.

Now how much do you save by making your own coffee?

I have found a pound makes about 8 cups(32 ounces) of coffee for 6-7 days, comparably if you were buying two grande coffees(at a coffee house, not a gas station) at $4/a day it comes out to be $24-$28/week. Meaning if you brew your own coffee you are saving $12-$15/a week spread out over the year $624-$780.

Cost Comparison: Beef Broth

April 5, 2011 Comments Off on Cost Comparison: Beef Broth

Ok so maybe I said that I was going to post this 2 months ago, but here it is. Is it actually worth it to make your own broth?

Better than Bouillon Beef Base Organic: $7.95

Better than Bouillon Beef Base: $5.95 (8oz makes something like 40 servings)

Pacific Foods Organic Beef Broth: $3.49

Whole Food 365 organic Beef Broth  32 oz: $3.49

Swanson Fat free Beef Broth 14oz: $1.19

Campbell Beef Broth 10.5 oz : $1.49

Making your own:

All and all I made between 10-12 quarts of  beef broth for about $15, almost all organic ingredients, with meat and bones from local Wolf Creek Farm. However lets say 10 quarts for the sake of simplicity,  that equals about 320 ounces. So on average it cost about .05 cents per ounce times that by 32 that equals a $1.60!

Beyond price there are a couple other things that make cooking your own broth worth it.

-It takes better(with the exception of better than bouillon because that stuff is awesome.)

-It is more nutritious, you get to keep the broth more gelatinous, which while sounding disgusting can actually be good for you.

-You control how much salt you put in it. This is a huge downfall of most broths and spices. They have a huge amount of salt in them, and that isn’t always the healthiest option. By making you own you can salt things to taste or to your health.

-You save on packaging, as you can put the broth in reusable containers and freeze it, instead buying something that you have to through away.

The Downfall?

– It is labor intensive and I noticed it made my whole house smell for days.

-It does take some storage space, probably in your freezer, unless you can think of some other stellar ways to preserve, like canning.

However I find this a small price to pay for a healthier, and cheaper option. I must say that  I won’t be making broth super frequently, just for the time, but because it last forever this shouldn’t be a problem. If you run of broth and don’t have time to make your own I really suggest the better than bouillon stuff, as it is quick easy, stores well, comes in organic variety, and  taste good.

What do you do for Beef broth?



Cost Comparison:Eggs

December 16, 2010 Comments Off on Cost Comparison:Eggs

Even though I have been on a no sugar kick (painful but necessary) the holidays are here and the thing I love the most about the holidays is baking cookies, just in case you are interested, delicious and easy chocolatey cookie recipe here from Food Network. You obviously can’t make good cookies without eggs, or sugar, or chocolate in my opinion…but we will let eggs have the spot light, and just what is the price different between some farm fresh eggs and ones out of the grocery store?

 

Farm fresh eggs, one dozen $3.00 to $3.50

Regular eggs from large Argro Farms, one dozen: $2 to $2.50

So clearly the regular eggs win  in price, but in my opinion the farm fresh eggs taste better. This may be in my  head, but there is no denying that eggs that were laid this week and delivered to you are much fresher than ones, that are shipped from who knows where.

Plus eggs from industrial farms have a long history of health and animal right violations. Just some food for thought.

On the plus side just like consumer pressure had driven many large grocery chains(including Wal-Mart) to ban  the use of bovine growth hormanes in the milk of their suppliers( note: they don’t vouch for conditions of the animals)  there has been some response from grocery chains to buy more free range eggs(note that free range doesn’t always mean happy chickens.) So remember that you do make choices when you spend money in certain places, and that consumer demand is a key in either keeping industrial food systems in place, or creating better healthier food systems.

 

Cost Comparison: Peaches and Nectarines

September 10, 2010 Comments Off on Cost Comparison: Peaches and Nectarines

I have to admit I prefer the nectarine to it’s fuzzy cousin the peach. The texture gets me just about every time, and I am way too demotivated to peel it(really who peels a peach?) However at the farmers market they are the same price so I throw them all in a bag and take them to the scale.

Farmer’s Market price(from a farm less that 40 miles away): $1.99 a pound

Fresh Nectarines and Peaches from Harris Teeter( Big Grocery Store Chain): $ 3.49

Simply Fresh(produce distributor): $1.99

So when it comes down to it  the peaches at the produce distributor are the same price, but if you are going to drive to a separate place to get your produce, it might as well be to the farmer’s market, where you can TALK to the people that grow  your food, and ask them questions about how they do it.

Cost Comparison: Cucumbers

June 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

I haven’t done a cost comparison in a while, because I have been busy gardening! ok and vacation too. Everyone loves a cucumber , right?  Well all the cool kids love cucumbers, and if you don’t love cucumber you’ve got to love pickles …right?  You really can’t be my friend if you don’t like pickles, so there! Anyway as with all cost comparison  post I want to know if it is actually cost effective for most people to eat local food. Just a reminder not all local food is certified organic or organic, but much of it is sustainable and it can’t hurt the local/regional economy.

Cucumbers at Harris Teeter(Chain Grocery Store): 89. cents a piece

Cucumbers at Local Grocer: $1.19 a piece

Cucumbers from the farmers market: 3 for a $1

Fun Facts:

Many of the cucumbers in the stores are the same type of cucumber, so if you get a chance to go to the farmers market experiment with buying all types of cucumbers, because they are lots! I started mine late so I had to take what I could get with my cucumbers I’m growing. Which brings me to my second fin fact.

Cucumbers are easy to grow and you can do it with a pot and a trellis, if you are really pressed for space you can grow a smaller heirloom variety.

Also, cucumber you buy from local farmers don’t have that uber gross wax coating(made from corn probably) because they aren’t shipped from really far away so they don’t need it.

So get you cucumber on, or cut some for your eyes when you get too worked this summer!

A Cost Comparison- Spinach

March 31, 2010 Comments Off on A Cost Comparison- Spinach

I don’t think it is any big secret that one of the many reasons people   choose not to eat  local/sustainable/organic is because it can be cost prohibitive and it is pretty bad that we as a  society don’t really make it possible for everyone at any socioeconomic level to eat  healthy foods. That said I think that for many other people cost is just a really big excuse, at least it was for me. So I now introduce the sexy and intriguing cost comparison series. I hope to explore the cost and “cost” of foods and share what I find, hopefully proving that eating better doesn’t have to come  with brutal violence to you pocket book. This week I will take a look at spinach, it’s in season in Virginia, even though my spinach on my roof is not doing so hot, and it is tasty. A lot of these links are local to Charlottesville , but if you look around you area you will  similar resources.

feast! Baby Spinach 1/2 lb(8 oz) : $4.25

Earthbound Farm Spinach – Organic Baby from Harris Teeter(5 oz): $3.99

Sno Pac Organic Cut Spinach, 10 oz from Foods of All Nations

Fresh Express Ready to Eat Spinach(9 oz.) from Harris Teeter: $2.99

Meadow Run Local Fresh Spinach,fresh  baby and large leaf mixed, 1/2 lb(8 oz) from Retail Relay: $1.99

Fresh Spinach(1 Bunch) from Harris Teeter: $1.99

Birds Eye Spinach -Frozen  Chopped(10 oz.) from Harris Teeter: $1.75

Winner for fresh spinach is: Meadow Run,  there isn’t a cost different between eating a local spinach and a one from the traditional grocery store.

Winner for frozen spinach: Birds Eye

Food For Thought:

In 2006 there was a pretty bad outbreak of E.coli in fresh spinach and it was determined that this was contamination from animal feces, now to be fair this can pretty much happen to any size farmer. However the benefit of buying spinach locally is that you can easily track in back to the source quickly, if you get sick from spinach from one farm, then you know it is that farm, and there is no need to do things like a preventative recall of ALL the spinach. Plus as with all local food you support a farmer. You can also grow your own, its a great thing to plant to get on the gardening wagon early in the seaon.

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