Monday, April 11, 2011

Seasonal shopping

Last week, eggs were $1 a dozen, which reminds me: look for seasonal bargains. Chickens, even in industrial conditions that try to even out production over the year, begin producing more eggs in the spring (there's a reason for the association of eggs and Easter.) It's a great time of year to eat a lot of eggs, which are almost always a cheap protein, if you don't have health concerns with them.

That's an important idea, try to shop in season. Even in this day of vegetables shipped in from the far end of South America in the winter, most of the time the vegetables and fruits in season are going to be cheapest. That means the best time for most berries is spring into early summer, apples in the fall and winter, summer squash in the early summer through late fall, winter squash in late summer through winter, and so on.

Even meat tends to have "seasons," though that's less the case than it used to be. However, everyone knows that turkey tends to be cheap in the fall because the producers aim for the Thanksgiving market. Traditionally hogs were slaughtered in the fall, and probably still are. Why? Because if you breed hogs to have their litters in the spring when the babies won't need much artificial heat, the hogs will be at market weight in the fall, and feeding a hog any longer than necessary cuts into your profits. If you track prices, you may notice a trend for different meats.

Another "seasonal" price variation is around holidays. Usually, there are particularly good sales on baking ingredients like sugar near the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Ham is often on sale near Easter, as are eggs. Hot dogs and hamburger are often on sale near the "grilling" holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, but so are things like BBQ sauce, mayonnaise and ketchup.

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