Frugal Foodie Guest Blogger: Discover Affordable, Fresh Produce at the International Market in Bridgeport, CT

Dr. Matt has been our family chiropractor for seven years.  Here is, what I hope, the first of many guest blogposts. ~Aimee, TFF
Fresh produce at the Byward Market
Fresh produce at the Byward Market (Photo credit: Jamie in Bytown)

I’ve been a fan of the “Two Frugal Fairfielders” blog, written by my friends Aimee and Marilyn, for some time now.  It’s about saving money (who doesn’t want to save these days?) but more importantly about values, parenting and life in general.  I’d like to share a money saving tip.

My family eats a lot of fresh produce which, as you know, can be expensive!  Recently I stumbled across the International Market on Main Street in Bridgeport.  They have every ethnic ingredient you want, a fresh seafood market and lots of produce.  On my last trip there I got 4 pounds of tomatoes, 5 large cucumbers, 2 heads of celery, 5 pounds of loose carrots, 2 green peppers, 5 pounds of sweet potatoes, one bunch of beets and a head of kale for $18.51!  Two bags!  I estimate that at Whole Foods or Mrs. Greens it would have been $50-$60.

Now wait – but it wasn’t organic!  No – but it was fresh and healthy.  Besides there is some concern about the “organicness” of the organic food we buy – is it really worth the price?  Does the health benefit of eating twice as much produce outweigh the fact that it’s not organic?  Thorough washing gets rid of the pesticides and allows me to feel good about serving it to my family.

Shopping at the International Market also provides another benefit – it will give you the opportunity to expose your kids and yourself to another world.  The diversity astounds.   Foods you have never seen before, shoppers of every color, a whole new world to investigate!

To get to the market, take Capitol Ave to Main Street (Sorrentos – a great old time Italian market/deli will be on your right); take a right and the International Market will be on your left, one block down.  Let me know if anyone wants me to take them on a tour of Bridgeport!

~Dr. Matt

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Join a Food Co-op and Eat Like Your Great-Grandmother…

…well, maybe not every great-grandmother. There’s a contrarian in every crowd. There’s always someone out there to say their grandmother or great-grandmother smoked and drank and lived to age 98. The point is that what and how they ate back then is not the same as what and how we eat today.  Heck, the processed food I ate as a kid is not the same as the processed food available today.  ( See my post on GMOs)

We have so much to learn from our grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Why? Growing up, they ate more freshly prepared foods than we do today. They snacked on raw fruit that was in-season and canned the extra. They prepared veggies they grew and cooked meat from their local farms. They bought in bulk, wasted nothing, and cooked from scratch. They enjoyed a simpler life of putting people before things.

Beautiful, affordable organic produce this week through my food co-op.

Eight years ago this month, when my middle child was six months old, we joined an organic and natural food buying group, called Mama’s Manna Food Co-op. That was the first step in this journey of a gazillion steps. In eight years and counting, I have discovered that cooking from scratch does not have to be a gourmet affair, nor does it have to take hours. Simple preparation nearly always yields the most delicious dishes. Most of all, cooking from scratch is always the frugal way to go.

Through the food co-op, fresh organic fruit and vegetables are available at prices comparable to conventional produce.  Organic grains, dried beans, flours, and nuts are available at frugal prices in bulk quantities, which equals less or reusable packaging. (Our great-grandmothers recycled before the word was invented!)

In addition to produce, anything you can buy at local stores, such as Mrs. Green’s, Fountain of Youth, and Whole Foods Market, is available through our co-op at a savings of at least 15% to 50%, and sometimes more.  If you are interested in joining our food co-op, please leave me your name and email address in the Comments Section at the end of this post.

I got Organic Short Grain Brown rice nearly 50% cheaper than packaged and Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Castile Soap for 45% cheaper than in a lot of stores.

As Linda Watson says in her book, Wildly Affordable Organic: All on $5 a Day or Less, it’s easy to think that the words “organic” and “sustainable” are code words for “too expensive.”  How much is your health worth?  To help you budget, download the “Dirty Dozen and Clean 15” list

Consider this: North American food culture has seen a steady decline in recent generations, characterized by a dangerous slide away from nutritious and locally-grown whole foods, and toward cheap, highly processed “convenience foods.” The reason is simple: we were enticed by low prices and short-term convenience, and misinformed about nutrition and the inevitable long-term health consequences of our choices. This has been called our “Fast Food Nation,” and it’s put us on course for a shorter life expectancy, and a lower quality of life. (taken from “Real Food for Real Kids”)

If you can, allocate more of the family budget toward fresh food. Look at it as a health care investment – as local Square Foot Gardening teacher and health coach Amie Hall has said in one of her free library workshops, “Get food from the farm, not the pharmacy.”

By using coupons on non-perishable items, refusing to buy material stuff, reusing the stuff we have, reducing waste and recycling as much as possible, you can save hundreds of dollars each year; money you can invest toward a sustainable, healthy and happy long life…so that you may live to be a great-grandmother or great-grandfather.

~Aimee, TFF