The Big Squeeze

My pride and joy.

This morning I squeezed 66 navel oranges to freeze the juice. They’ve been falling from the tree since January, and a few were starting to grow mold in the basket. Of course I couldn’t resist getting out my rummage-sale-find-of-a-lifetime hanging scale. I seem to have a thing about record keeping. It’s not that I always jot down how many hours I spent weeding on which date, or the weight of the third tomatillo harvest. When I do, though, it gives me an inexplicable sense of joy and satisfaction. Call me weird. Kelly will have nothing to do with record keeping, and I can see her eyes begin to glaze over as I ramble on.

The oranges weighed in at just about 26 pounds, and their juice filled seven variously sized recycled jars (I haven’t yet attempted the math on the number of ounces, but that will come).

I’ve often wondered how much money we save by growing fruits and vegetables, and whether we save any at all when our time and garden expenses are factored in.  Coming up with exact numbers has seemed daunting, if not impossible.

This morning’s orange harvest has me inspired again, and I figure I might as well start today at approximating how much we’d be spending if we were to buy the organic produce that we grow in the garden.

There are obvious weaknesses inherent in such estimations. For instance, I suspect that if I were to factor in the hours we spend tending the garden, I would find we are eating hundred dollar tomatoes. One could also argue that homegrown food is worth more because it tastes better and is fresher, and therefore higher in nutrients, than anything you could buy at the grocery store.

For me, gardening is both a spiritual and a practical endeavor and feeds my soul in ways that aren’t quantifiable. Even so, I find myself curious as to just how much money we might be saving by packing our yard with edibles.

Let the calculations begin

I have it on good authority that the Whole Foods Market down the road (where we very sadly resort to buying much of our food) is selling organic navel oranges for $1.69/lb. My orange squeezing marathon would have rung up at  $43.94. Yikes! This is a good reminder that we would probably forgo many of the foods we eat if we weren’t growing them ourselves. At that price, juice concentrate starts sounding downright appealing.

$43.94 worth of oranges.

My plan is to begin keeping track of the selling price for the foods we’re growing and compiling this information so I can take a look at what we’re saving over time. Hopefully this will serve as an inspiration, not only to up our efforts in the garden, but also to make sure we don’t let food go to waste—something that can be all too easy.

The scene of the crime.

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