Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eat Local

In today's society, food frequently just starts at the grocery store. We do not know who grew it, where its from, and sometimes even what is in it. That can be scary when you hear another report in the news about recalled food. To combat the "food unknown", you can turn to local food sources.

If you would like to start eating locally, I have a roundup of resources to get you started. Sometimes all you need to get started is to know what your options are.

Farmer's Market/ Farm Stand
These are a great way to start. Depending on the size, you can go once a week or everyday to pick up tasty fresh produce. You can talk directly to the grower if you have any questions. I especially enjoy this option when I am branching out to try new vegetables. On farmer at out market gave me some great ideas for using chard when I had not tried it before. The USDA website has a list of farmer's markets if you are looking for one in your area.

You Pick
I love this option for fruit but it can also be available for vegetables. These farms have you pick the produce when it is ready. Cheaper for you, easier for them. The Pick Your Own website has a good, though not completely inclusive, list of you pick farms in different states. The website is a blast of color but does have good info.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
Every farm has a little bit of a different CSA program, but the premise is the same. You pay in advance and they give you a basket of food each week for a set number of weeks. This helps the farmer out because they now have startup money for planting time. It helps you because you get fresh produce every week. We have done a CSA this summer and love it! Unfortunately, the availability of a CSA program really varies. You can ask around at your farmer's market or look up CSA information on the Local Harvest website.

Local Harvest
This is one of my favorite eat local websites! You can search for farms, CSA, farmer's markets, restaurants that serve local produce, and local meat. Just a really great resource.

Eat Wild
A site listing farms where you can find local meat, eggs, and dairy. I don't find this site as user friendly but it does have a good list.

Ask Around!
Word of mouth is usually the best advertisement. Some small farms may not make it to these websites so make sure to ask around for any you may have missed. Some people advertise things like you pick or eggs on Craigslist as well.

So now you are ready to get started! See what is in your area. Eating local is a great boost to area farmers and the local economy.