I Want My Fruits & Veggies!
I wanted to build off of Lady Bethezda’s and Amanda’s great posts on buying local food, with some alternate ideas if shopping the Farmer’s Markets is a challenge. I know when I was working full-time in retail, it was always really difficult due to my work schedule to make it to a Farmer’s Market where I live, at least on any kind of regular basis. But buying local food is important to me, so what’s a girl to do? Read on for some options that might be available where you live!
The easiest option is to see if there is some kind of home delivery in your area. A quick google search for “organic produce delivery” comes up with quite a few options if you live in an urban center. I personally have experience with Organics To You, an awesome company in Portland OR that does weekly organic produce delivery. In general, these services offer a few different sizes of “box” depending on how much produce you want, and the pricing is often quite competitive with organic pricing at grocery stores. Most of these services operate on a pay-as-you-go format, where you only pay for the boxes you get. If you go on vacation, or just need to skip a week, or whatever, as long as you notify them in advance (Organics To You only requires 48 hours notice) they won’t deliver (or charge you!) that week. They source their produce from the very same farms you find at the Farmer’s Markets. I REALLY love getting my box every week – what you get depends on what’s in season in your area, and I’ve been introduced to a wide variety of produce I might not have tried otherwise. This is probably my favorite way to get fresh, local produce regularly. It literally couldn’t be easier – a box shows up on my doorstep every Monday.
If you don’t live in an area that has a home delivery business, there are other options! Something called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become quite popular in the last 20 years. With CSA, consumers become members or subscribers of a specific farm (or sometimes coalition of famers) and buy shares at the beginning of the growing season of the anticipated harvest. Typically the share consists of a weekly box of produce, but other farm products may be included. You pick up your box each week at a meeting place in your community, or directly at the farm. There is usually some flexibility involved in getting your box to you, which makes scheduling easier. With a CSA, you pay a flat amount for the whole season (and it’s usually competitive with grocery store prices) and many CSA’s allow you to make payments if one large fee up front is challenging. Some farms also allow you to pay with “sweat equity,” by working at the farm to cover some part of the fee. The drawback is that if you need to miss a week (vacation or whatever) you usually don’t get a refund for that week’s box. Local Harvest has a search feature to help you find a farm near you.
If neither of those are options for you, but you still want to eat local, consider doing some research before you head off to the grocery store. What kinds of produce are typically grown in your state or region? Some grocery stores label what state (or country) their produce comes from, and sometimes the produce has stickers or labels with origin as well – choose those grown closer to where you live and avoid produce that’s travelled a long distance. If your town has a health food store or co-op, they generally source their produce locally, so consider shopping there. You can also find cookbooks that will teach you about eating seasonally.
Eating locally can be really rewarding! I love all the new-to-me produce I’ve been introduced to, and the challenge of learning to cook new things.