By: Leanne Ely
There’s something happening in cities and towns throughout North America right now that’s been a long time coming. More and more consumers are shopping for local food sources and demanding that their local grocery stores stock local options for meat, produce and dairy.
The local food movement is alive and well, and so it should be!
Local food sources are more nutritious because they’ve been harvested more recently, giving us more minerals and vitamins at the time of consumption. (The nutrition of a food is depleted the longer it sits between being harvested and eaten.)
Buying local foods is better for the environment because the less time your food spends in transit, the less carbon emissions you’re responsible for. Buying direct from farmers also requires less packaging of produce, as veggies and fruits are often sold au natural rather than in plastic.
And the economic impact of buying local has a very positive effect on the community you live in. You’re putting more money directly in the pockets of farmers when you seek out local sources of food.
So, how do you go about finding local food sources?
If you live in a climate where fresh produce is available year-round, you will have an easier time and a wider variety of foods to source locally than those living in a part of the world that goes into a deep freeze in the winter months.
Here are a few ways to source the best local foods your community has to offer:
Farmers’ Market. The absolute best source of local foods is your closest farmers’ market. If you’re fortunate enough to have a farmers’ market in your town, make it a point to shop there as part of your weekly (or daily) routine. Get to know the farmers who bring you the food you put on your table. Ask them questions about how the foods are grown, what they feed their animals and where their seeds come from.
CSA. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Farmers everywhere are literally bringing their hard work to people’s doors through CSA programs. When you sign up for a CSA, you’ll receive a box of your local farmers’ freshest produce each and every week, or you pick it up from the farm gate. Google CSA programs in your community, or ask around the farmers’ market and you should be able to find one to join. These programs guarantee farmers a steady source of income, while guaranteeing consumers a weekly box of the freshest foods available.
Ask your neighbors. If you can’t find a CSA to join and you don’t have a farmers’ market close by, ask around your neighborhood to find out where the producers are. Most farmers are happy to work directly with consumers! Even if you live in an area that doesn’t produce crops in the winter months, you should be able to find a local source for items like meat, poultry, eggs and honey.
When all else fails, talk to the manager at your grocery store and ask them to stock their produce section with local items. Ask them to bring in local honey, eggs and meat. Keep the heat on them until you start seeing those local items on the shelves!
Eating local foods keeps your hard-earned grocery budget working in your very own community.
Going local benefits everyone!