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Local Produce: They Grow, Pick & Deliver

I grow a few things in my backyard. I have a tomato plant, some mint, basil, lemongrass, parsley and cilantro. This year, I also have a red pepper plant and a bottle gourd.

Honestly, if I could grow everything in my backyard, I would. Unfortunately I don't have the time nor the know-how.

Someday, I will buy myself a few acres, study the science and grow my own food. I roughly follow the Blue Zones diet and I want to live a better, healthier life.

I am vegetarian and don't even enjoy soy and I limit my dairy (OK, I admit, I have a scoop of ice cream once a week, a couple spoons of milk in my tea and some cheese on my tacos and with wine - but I am slightly lactose intolerant and I don't miss it at all) so my conversation here is just about vegetables and fruits.

The organic / non-organic debate is not new. Organic food costs more but does not use pesticide. Some produce is organic but does not have the certification. I have heard that some produce like melon or avocado have thick skin that pesticides do not affect them, so you don't need to buy them organic. Some food is harder to grow without pesticides.

Countries have different parameters about what they determine as organic. Some folks use organic seeds, others are okay with GMO or non-organic seeds but they use organic methods of cultivation. Many perspectives and parts to this debate. All probably with their own version of truth.

I am a price-conscious consumer and not brand loyal when it comes to vegetable and fruit brands. I shop at our local Ralph's supermarket, sometimes Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and the Indian store. I am especially motivated to shop at the local farmer's market because the produce there seems the freshest.

Not all places I shop at have organic food, and in some places, it is too expensive. Some times, the produce has been sitting on grocery store shelves for several days before someone like me picks it up.

As a consumer, I have no idea how long that head of cabbage has been sitting. I continue to look for deals, and jump to ones I think are worth my money. I buy fewer things so that I use everything that I have and no produce goes bad.

I spent about $400-$450 a month for our family of three on groceries, which includes produce, dairy, bread and dry goods. I cook mostly at home.

My last few visits at the farmer's market have been disappointing because there is absolutely no standardization in produce in the farmer[s market where I shop. A bag of purple potatoes from the market poisoned my poor husband and he was so uncomfortable for days. The avocados were just horrible. A few things rotted in a day.