While there are challenges to eating local produce, especially in the winter, I found there are some viable solutions. As promised in my last blog , here’s what I’ve come up with.
NOTE: Now remember, I’m new to this way of shopping, so if you have more info to share, hop on board the comments sections and give us all a holler. I’d love to hear from you.
Where can I buy local produce?
I have friends who are a part of something called a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). It’s where you front the farmer money each month or each season to buy seed, fertilizer, etc, and then whatever the farmer produces you get to share in it. Usually, there is a freshly picked basket of goodies ready for you each week. The CSA farmer only picks the food that is ripe, so you get the best of the best. The only challenge with CSA’s is that you never know what you are going to get in your basket from week to week. For some, that’s an exciting challenge, for others… not so much.
Want to find a CSA near you? Go here. Just plug in your zip code. I found one for as little as $18/week and another $600/season.
Organics To You
If you live around the Portland, Oregon area this may also be a option for you. Organics to You says they only buy their produce from local farmers (although I did see some items from California) and they deliver your order right to your door. What’s kind of cool about these guys is that it appears you get to choose what foods you want to buy. It looks like there are plenty of options even in March. If you check them out, come back and let us know what you thought of your experience.
If you’re not from around these parts, get your fingers walking on google. If we have a service like that here, chances are you might have one in your neck of the woods.
Your Local Farm Produce Stand
I am so fortunate that I live exactly 5 minutes from my local produce stand that not only sells organic food, but practices awesome farming (crop rotation, leaving the ground fallow for a time, cover crops to attract beneficial bugs, etc).
If you live around Portland, go to Tri-County Farm Fresh Produce and plug in your zip code and voila, you’ve got a list and a map of all the farms nearest you. By the way, you can also find local CSA’s through this website. It’s awesome. Chances are, you drive by one every day.
Don’t live around here? Just google the words “local produce” plus the name of your town and state. Trust me it works. I just googled Kansas City. Ask of google and you shall receive.
You Local Farmer’s Market
This is an option that is pretty limiting in the winter, at least around here, but nevertheless, it can be a great option for you this spring/summer. Most Farmer’s Markets are open clear into the fall, and the atmosphere is so fun. Gresham Farmer’s Market opens in May and Portland’s just opened this last Saturday on the Portland State University campus. All over Europe, it’s common to buy your food at an open market such as these. So, go ahead. You’ll feel so “Euro-ish”.
What can you eat in the winter?
It will vary depending on your climate. Around here, my local Thompson’s Farm has potatoes, yams, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, lettuce and apples. Can we say stir fry?
But you know, this summer I started to think about what would not be available in the fields around me. The obvious ones were berries. I decided to really stock up this summer, and freeze as much as I could. It ended up not being near enough for our consumption. Guess what I’ll be up to this summer?
And then there was some food that I had never considered before: Corn, tomatoes, bell peppers…all foods I use often in my cooking to make soups and sauces. So, each time I shopped at the produce stand this summer, I brought more than I needed. I usually picked up 4 additional ears of corn and 2 bell peppers. I then blanched the corn (I learned this is an important step if you don’t want mushy corn later), cut it from the cob and then froze it. I did the same with my chopped bell peppers (minus the blanching, that is). I have loved having the pre-cut peppers on hand.
The tomatoes demanded a different approach. Sort of. I bought several whole boxes of tomatoes at a time (it’s cheaper to do it this way) and canned them with my friend Misty. For those of you not too keen on canning yet, you can freeze tomatoes whole no problem. In some ways, I prefer freezing to canning, but I couldn’t afford the freezer space this year. So, into jars they went.
Again, it wasn’t enough and I will run out of these items before they are in season again, but I thought it was a pretty good first attempt. And this way, I don’t have to go “Cold Turkey” throughout the non-season.
Okay, I know. I’ve gotten a little nuts with all the questions. I promise. The interrogation is over. Hee. Hee.
I hope you’re not discouraged with all this info, but if you are, remember…Baby Steps. Maybe this is something you start to tackle this summer when local food is a plenty. Take this spring to come up with a game plan.
It’s okay to start small.
I know you’ve probably seen how much more you can pay for organic food. And I realize this may be a deterrence for some of you. It was for me for years. Did R-Man get a huge raise this year? Nope. So, what changed? (oops, I said I wouldn’t question any more)
What changed is I watched a documentary. Yes, it’s true, I like documentaries. This one was called Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution. In it shows a little town in France where the Mayor decides to have the schools only buy local organic food for school lunches. The results were amazing.
The children began coming home and asking their parents to buy organic food. It tasted that good to them! The parents, not being from upper middle class, were a bit perplexed how they would afford to feed their children this way. But after some time, when asked how they were managing to pay the higher prices, they all said they had stopped buying junk food. They used their food budget money to only buy what was good for them.
So, I decided if these poor french people could do it, so could I.
That’s when I started my s-l-o-w but surely way of cutting out highly processed goodies from our lives. I only do one thing at a time. And I usually look for a good replacement, so maybe, just maybe we don’t miss it. You know, like replacing R-Man’s sugar-laden yogurt with my homemade stuff. And then if there is sadness at the loss, I wait for the grief to subside before not buying another thing.
Before you think I’m some crazy health nut that never lets her children have anything fun to eat, just let me be brutally honest with you. The first thing I cut was soda on Pizza Night. That was a year ago. We still have Pizza Night (sans soda) every Friday and I’ve been known lately to buy it from our local pizza joint. <gasp> Baby steps.
Go here to see a clip from Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution. By the way, this is a documentary on Netflix. It’s worth watching.
How about you? Do you try to eat local? Have any tricks to share?
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