I’m not going to try to pretend that we know all the answers to all the questions about eating locally. I’m not even going to try to pretend like it’s always easy to eat fresh and local veggies and meat. And I’m definitely not going to pretend like we don’t eat frozen pizza sometimes.
But sometimes we don’t…
And for those of you who may be interested in just doing a few small things to get more local foods into your diet, support the hard-working and under-recognized farmers in your community, and eat less ‘unseens’ (antibiotics, pesticides, steriods, etc.)… here are a few tips/hints/suggestions/what worked for us that may work for you:
- Localharvest.org – a great website that easily links you with your local farmers. Input your location, and immediately you’ve got (hopefully) several options with detailed descriptions, crop lists, pictures, and contact info. This is the website that helped us find our CSA, ShareCroppers Farm.
- Price – We were really worried we wouldn’t get the same amount of food for our money as we do in the grocery stores. For the CSA veggies this is absolutely NOT TRUE. We bought a half share, paid up front, and we get a decent sized basket full of beautiful goodies and a half dozen eggs every week. We paid a few hundred bucks and got 20 weeks of fresh, local produce. You can get a good idea of how much we get per week in past posts. For the meat, we literally took 2 different farms’ price lists into Bloom to compare. The prices are a tiny bit higher- maybe $.50 per pound higher for some cuts. But then some cuts are cheaper to buy from the farm. We figured that on average, it’s about the same. However, beef from the farm doesn’t go on Price Lock like at Bi-Lo… but on the flip side, Bi-Lo can’t tell you what that cow had for dinner, what the ancestry line of the cow was, or even the name of the cow. Bi-Lo can’t tell you it was 23 days aged, so you don’t need to pound it for the flank steak recipe you want to try.
- Start small – You don’t have to completely switch your diet, you don’t have to automatically become a locavore. You can take baby steps. Visit the farmers market and buy a few things. Stop by a roadside stand and say hey and grab some tomatoes to have with dinner. Then maybe start getting a weeks’ worth of veggies from the farmers market. Then look into getting a share of a CSA farm. Then ask around about local beef. Then buy a little bit. Then get a meat subscription that comes regularly. Just take baby steps. Don’t make it a burden- make it fun.
- Pick up the phone, write an email – Farmers are people, just like you and me. Talk to them. Ask them the silly questions. I’ve been so embarrassed about a few of my questions to Robin (What is this thing that looks like a huge corndog? What do I do with beets? This thing smells like licorice and it’s furry, can I even eat it?) and she’s been so willing to answer. This is their job, their livelihood- they want you to help you get to know the products.
- Visit the farm – You really can’t get a good idea of the quality of foods you are getting til you make – what we call in grantmaking world – a ‘site visit’. Just ask them if it’s ok if you come see the farm. They will almost always say yes. Once again- you are the customer, they want to show you how great their product is. We’ve been to ShareCroppers farm and Marik Farms… both were beautiful.
- Order early, and order in bulk – CSA farmers need to know how many customers they have before they plant. Go ahead and call as soon as you think about to get in the next season’s harvest. We reserved our share of the CSA farm in March and harvest didn’t even begin until May. Think ahead. Some CSAs have fall or winter harvests- don’t wait too much longer to go ahead and get in on those! Also, it’s just like most things- the more you order, the better deal you get.
- Don’t be picky – Be open to trying new things. Don’t know what fennel is? Google it. There are so many recipe websites, and I haven’t come across anything I couldn’t find a recipe for so far. Experiment. It’s like a science project in your kitchen and ending up in your tummy. You never know – you may find your new favorite food! The more you limit what you’re willing to get, the less of a variety and less of a deal you’ll get for your dollar.
Don’t be scared. Just go for it. You’ll be glad you did. There’s really nothing to be afraid of, and don’t think you can’t do it- it’s easy! If you want to know more about our experience or need help finding a farm that works best for you- I’d love to help connect you with some farmers! Just leave me a comment below 🙂