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3 Easy Ways to Get US Farm Products for Free

August is the harvest time for a variety of fruits and vegetables, but almost half of Americans are experiencing financial difficulties due to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, so they cannot always afford even seasonal food. Edition The Penny Hoarder offers three strategies for finding free or very cheap fruits and vegetables before the end of summer.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Free farm stands, refrigerators and pantries

Depending on where you live, free vegetables may be hidden in plain sight - at free farm stands, free refrigerators, or Little free pantries - A variation of the "free food" of the popular Little Free Library. This movement is a crowdsourcing solution for local needs: neighbors help each other with food.

The hardest part of getting free products this way is finding the closest options. It can be difficult to know where to look if you've never used these tools before.

You can start with local food items, pantries, or community cafes. All of these places act as resources within communities. Staff and volunteers are likely familiar with local or regional options.

  • Tip: some free farmers markets require proof of income, others offer fruit and vegetables no questions asked.

Free refrigerators and small free pantries (which usually contain basic pantry staples, but sometimes fruits and vegetables are there) are undeniable sources of such food.

Little Free Pantries has tool cardallowing you to find pantries near you, but free refrigerators are more difficult to find. They are usually marked with signs offering “free food,” so you might find one in your area or hear about it through word of mouth. Searching Instagram for #mutualaid, #freefridge, or #communityfridge is another way.

On the subject: Coffee, donuts and ice cream: 9 things you can get for free in August

2. Strategic purchasing at farmers' markets

Farmers markets are a great place to stock up on local fruits and vegetables while supporting farmers in your area, but they can also be a good source of discounts if you know how to find them.

Farmers generally don't like to haggle over prices, but there are a few important exceptions.

Farmers often reject their produce in the marketplace, displaying only the freshest and most delicious produce. A deformed food that is not suitable for cutting may be marketed as inferior food, although there is no difference in nutritional value. Not all farmers put off such products, but those who do are usually willing to sell them at a discounted price.

  • Council. Subscription services like Misfits Market, Hungry Harvest, and Imperfect Produce are another way to get “imperfect” products.

Some parts of fruits or vegetables most consumers do not want to buy or do not know how to use (for example, radish greens or carrot tops). Consumers often buy radishes or carrots and keep the green parts.

Although farmers usually save them for compost, you can get them for free if you ask politely. The green parts of radishes and carrots make excellent pesto, and you can also feed them to pets.

Farmers generally do not want to bring unsold food back to the farm. Towards the end of the market day, as they prepare to load the truck, farmers may be more inclined to provide a discount on anything that has not been sold. Just ask politely about it.

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3. Collection of unassembled products

A California study found that farms discard 33,7% of their produce. Farmers do not have enough time and labor to collect everything completely. This year, there was an additional difficulty in farming, subject to social distance. Unharvested crops are often left in the fields and simply rot.

Harvesting organizations often collect leftover produce from farm fields for distribution to pantries or canteens, but you can also pick them up for personal use. Just ask local farmers or even gardeners if you can help clear their fields in exchange for free food.

While harvesting a food rescue program usually means getting food to those in need, sometimes farmers donate food to you in appreciation for helping you collect leftovers.

You don't have to live next to a farm to harvest. Urban groups often harvest products from unused resources, such as street trees or homeowner's trees, when the owners do not need the harvest.

You can also learn about local wild edibles by attending classes (e.g. School of self reliance and Brooklyn brainery). Food grown on private land cannot be harvested without a permit, but if you find wild edibles in the forest or park, they will generally be legal prey if you comply regulations.

  • Council... When collecting local fruits or wild foods, it is important to make sure you have identified the plant correctly. If you are not sure, do not collect.

Non-profit organization Falling fruit maintains a global database of 2725 food items to help you in your food hunt. Their database contains everything from mulberries, grapes and elderberries to lesser known edibles like antler sumac (used to make lemonade or as a spice) or coza dogwood, which can be used in homemade wine, jam or pies.

These strategies are flexible and achievable whether you live in an urban, rural, or rural area. They can work best in the summer when there is a lot of produce, but they can also help you save year round.

Take what you need, but don't forget to leave something to others - and share where you can, when you can.

In the U.S. is free Food

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