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Ah, summertime in the Inland Northwest, with farmers markets and neighborhood markets bursting with fresh, local produce. Did you know this regional bounty can save you money?

As general manager of downtown Spokane’s Main Market Co-op, Megan White is working to counter the perception that high-quality, regionally sourced, organically grown food is beyond the spending power of the average shopper.

“The whole mission of our co-op is focused on our local food system, and buying as much locally as we possibly can,” she says. “So where we really shine is our produce department. We regularly price-compare against national, conventionally grown food, even though most of our produce is organic, to make sure that produce in particular is at a really great price point.”

But savvy shoppers can lower those prices even further. Here are three tips to get you started:

Buy in bulk. Ask at your co-op or farmers market to negotiate a better price for a big box of produce. Freeze or preserve what you can’t eat soon.

Buy what’s in season nearby. When farmers don’t have to transport their crops far, their costs go down ? and so do yours.

Plant your own food. If you have a pot, you can grow strawberries. Just think what you could do with a backyard!

To learn more about saving money while eating locally, go to stcumoney.org

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