E-Coli Outbreak ready to happen — Classic example of why Governments regulate commercial foods — Richmond Review – ARZEENA HAMIR: Friends pool together to make organics more affordable

By Arzeena Hamir – Richmond Review

Published: June 02, 2011 11:00 AM

Updated: June 02, 2011 11:36 AM

I recently spent a few days in Regina talking to people about Richmond’s pesticide bylaw (which is still in effect, thank goodness!).

My host and I got into a conversation about supporting local farms and she began lamenting about the price hike that her local “egg lady” had just put in place. A dozen, locally-raised, free-range eggs now sold for $2.50 in Regina!! She was horrified.

When I told her the going rate of such eggs in Richmond, $5 a dozen or more, her jaw dropped. I even know people who are paying $7 per dozen for certified organic eggs. It’s enough to turn your backyard into a chicken run!

But, before we resort to breaking local bylaws, there is an easier way of combating price hikes without sacrificing the quality of food you’re feeding your family. The secret? Friends. And, the more, the better.

About a month ago, a number of us got together to start an informal buying club. We all prefer to feed our families organic food but certain foods like butter, cheese, eggs, and meat are fairly expensive. There are also certain organic staples that all of us eat regularly: whole wheat flour; red lentils; brown rice and sugar.

So, one friend offered to make a trip to Rockweld Farm in Abbotsford and pick up people’s orders for frozen organic chicken, sausages, and more. By buying these products by the case, we saved a fair amount and our freezers are stocked! Everyone chipped in $5 for gas and we still saved money.

Another friend contacted SunOpta, formerly known as Wild West Organics, and purchased dry goods like flour, rice, and sugar in large, 20 kilo bags. She was even able to score some organic ketchup & agave syrup. We split the bags into large Ziploc bags and now my cupboard is looking nicely full.

I have an egg lady who lives in my neighbourhood. Our buying group uses a lot of eggs, at least 10 dozen every two weeks. She’s so close, I even get delivery, during her morning walks, when she passes by my house. Now that’s service!

So now, about every two weeks, we gather in the kitchen of one of the friends and we open up the “store.” I bring the eggs, the meat order comes in and bags of rice and flour are eagerly split up on the kitchen table. Next time we hold a store, I hope to bring some perennials that I’ve divided. Others will be bringing homemade jams and chutneys. When local produce comes in, you can bet we’ll be buying fruits & veggies by the case.

When the “store” is open for business, tea is served, kids are running around playing with each other, and we have great conversations. None of us have operated a retail operation and nor do we hope to start one up but now that we see how much we save, we’re all out looking for bulk bargains.

Word of the “store” is spreading like wildfire, especially in the mummy crowd and I’m happy to see more members being interested. Not only do we increase the savings, but we keep our money in our community, where the benefits continue to multiply.

Arzeena Hamir is co-ordinator of the Richmond Food Security Society. Reach her at arzeenahamir@shaw.ca.

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