In the last year, Savannah has been seeded with restaurants like Green Truck and Butterhead Greens Café that put the spotlight on local foods. Even older Savannah favorites like Sentient Bean feature foods from the local farming community, which means eating local has never been easier for Savannah residents. Still, while local dine-out options are increasing, so are local eat-in options with few residents realizing that eating local can be cost-comparable to eating from the grocery store.
There are many reasons to eat local. Eating local uses less energy, which reduces fossil fuels and gas emissions, and the food is fresher because it has spent less time in transit. You can also meet the farmer and see where your food came from, which means greater transparency in the food production process. In 2007, Time Magazine even ran an article suggesting that eating local is better than eating organic, so for many, it is just a matter of finding local food sources.
Savannah has three primary ways to taste the best of the bioregion: the Savannah Food Co-op; the Forsyth Farmer’s Market; and the farmers themselves.
Joining the Savannah Food Co-op is just a matter of registering online and paying a $25 annual membership fee. Then you can shop at your leisure online and pick up your order every two weeks at their pickup center on 59th Street.
To get a taste of the savings the co-op has to offer: for only $45, a large community-supported agriculture box provides enough fruits and vegetables for one person to live exclusively on fruits and vegetables for two to three weeks. While tofu at Publix costs $2.89 and tofu from Kroger costs $1.89, tofu from the co-op costs $1.39—and the tofu comes from Atlanta.
Prices are cheaper for co-op volunteers, too. Just one to two hours of volunteering means paying only a 10 percent markup from the wholesale price on the next co-op purchase.
The Forsyth Farmers’ Market, which meets from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday in Forsyth Park, is another choice for local flavor. Most of the produce sold there is organic in addition to being local, and vendors are amenable to haggling. The farmers’ market also has something called the Wholesome Wave Program, which doubles the value of EBT dollars spent at the market, and vendors have been known to give discounts to repeat customers.
To get a taste of savings at the farmer’s market: at Kroger, it costs roughly $2.49 per pound of conventionally grown tomatoes and roughly $1.50 per pound of conventionally grown onions. But at the farmers market, some vendors sell organic tomatoes for $1.99 per pound and organic onions for $1.29 per pound.
Buying from the farmer directly can also save money because it excludes the associated costs of middle-men like the co-op and farmer’s market. Team up with local farmers by meeting them at the farmer’s market or by searching local farms online. When I googled “Savannah farmers,” I found a farmer selling organic, free-range eggs for $2 a dozen—and because you’re buying local, you can verify the chickens are actually free-range when you pick up the eggs.
While eating local has perks like background-checking food sources, there are also some tradeoffs. Not everything produced locally is cheaper, which is often the case with meat and dairy, and eating local is not always convenient because shoppers have to specifically seek it out. This can mean spending more time grocery shopping or spending more money to avoid shopping multiple places. At the very least, eating local is a very real option for Savannah residents.
Contact Micco Caporale.