With a slow economy and skyrocketing food and gas prices, we all have to come to terms with our grocery budget.  Most shoppers pick their groceries based on habit, taste preference and price, not on nutritional content. Maybe it’s time to reconsider our shopping priorities. Here are four tips for fighting rising inflation in the fruit industry:


Tip 1 - Substitute Vegetables for Fruit

Most people think that fruits must be sweet, otherwise they should be considered vegetables. However, tomatoes are technically classed as fruit, as are squash, pumpkin, corn, beans, green pepper and peas.

Can you get all the nutrients from vegetables that are found in fruit? Yes, you can. Fruits provide fiber and vitamins - so do vegetables. The natural laxative effect of fruits is not needed if you get enough fiber. Vegetables can take care of that need, nicely.

The color in blue fruits such as blueberries and grapes is caused by phytonutrients which are antioxidants. Fruits contain other anti-oxidants, too, like poly-phenolic flavonoids. Drink black tea or coffee to get the highest level of antioxidants in your diet. All beans and nuts such as walnuts and pecans are also high in antioxidant content.

Fruits are high in fiber and vitamins A, C, E and K.
  • Vitamin A can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli and spinach.
  • Vitamin C sources are found in vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts and butternut squash.
  • Vitamin E is plentiful in butternut squash, potatoes and pumpkin.
  • Vitamin K is high in all orange vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes and is also found in tomatoes, cabbage, peas and spinach.
  • Fiber can be found in any whole food, whether fruit or vegetable. The skins of fruit are high in fiber, but this is also true of potato skins, corn and whole grains such as oatmeal.

Tip 2 - Look for cheaper fruits from regions that haven’t suffered crop yield issues due to bad weather.

Apples and peaches may be high priced, while bananas and pineapple remain inexpensive. Shop for fruits that haven’t risen in price. You may need to try fruits that you would not normally consider, like cranberries, dates or avocados.

Tip 3 (longterm) - Grow your own fruit at home.
  • Strawberries and raspberries can produce a good yield during their second year after planting.
  • Grapes and blueberries, however, take more effort to cultivate properly, but are worthwhile choices for advanced gardeners. 
  • Blackberry plants grow like weeds in my native northwest and can get out of control fast here, but if pruned regularly make a hearty choice to yield home grown fruit. 
  • Boysenberries are a more domesticated relative of the blackberry that are easy to grow, too.
  • If you want to plan very long term, plant apple or plum trees. It takes 5-7 years to start getting worthwhile yields. If you’re lucky enough to own or rent a house with mature fruit trees, take advantage of their fruit. Cherry trees sound like a great idea, but be wary. Birds love cherries, so yields can be low. 

Tip 4 - Buy fruit in bulk, when in season, and then can the fruit at home for use the next winter.
This requires a great deal of work in a very short span of time, usually in the heat of the summer. The fruit spoils quickly in summer, if not canned right away. If you have mature fruit trees, home canning may also be in your future. Canning requires a large pressure cooker, canning jars and ample storage area for shelves of fruit.

In conclusion, if you want to save money, be flexible with your fruit needs. Your sweet tooth may need to go unfulfilled. Try new fruits, substitute vegetables or grow your own fruit. Who knows - maybe next year we will be substituting fruit for high-priced vegetables.