Is it worth driving to farmland to get cheaper produce?

[This post was copied over from my old blog, so apologies if you already read it there.]

It’s yummy fruit season again here in the northwest. Last year, some friends took a trip to Yakmia, WA to take advantage of the cheap produce in farmland. Is it worth a drive like this, in order to save money? Let’s run the numbers:

It’s 140 miles from Seattle to Yakima, and driving costs about $1 a mile. In order to recoup the cost of the round-trip, you’d need to save $280 in produce.

Last year, we took part in a bulk-buy of organic, heirloom tomatoes. We got around 40 pounds of juicy goodness, at $2 a pound. Venessa froze them, which apparently is easier than canning and just as useful (the chest freezer pays off again).

In Yakima, similar tomatoes can be had for only 40 cents a pound, a savings of $1.60 a pound. So one would need to buy 175 pounds of produce to recoup the money it takes.

Our 40 pounds of tomatoes fit into two boxes, which easily tucked into one corner of our car. Our friends are taking a pickup truck, so it’s not a stretch to imagine them coming back with 175+ pounds of produce.

Other considerations:

* Time: it’s about 5 hours round-trip, plus the time spent in Yakima, so you’re looking at a full day journey. Depending on how you value your time, you might need to take the opportunity cost into account. Also factor in the time it takes to can, preserve, freeze, etc.
* Experience: on the other hand, taking a road trip with a loved one is a lot of fun, and whenever you ate the produce you could think of the experience.
* Cost: do you have enough money to afford the up front cost of all that produce?
* Space: do you have enough space for all this food?

There are so many variables to determine if this is worth it for you, but if you have the time, space, and money, it does save money to drive to the heartland to buy a bunch of produce.

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