When shopping at the grocery store, do you ever have questions about the items you're buying?
Do you feel you paid a fair price for that product? Where did those potatoes come from, how old is that carton of eggs, and who is being supported by your hard earned dollars? Probably not local farmers.
Chances are, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get satisfactory answers to those questions when you buy food at any grocery store.
However, when you buy from local farmers, it’s a completely different story. Local farmers are a special and important asset to every community. Farmers work hard every day to make sure crops are fresh and healthy for families to enjoy. When the weather gets tough, you can bet farmers are working extra hard to secure their harvest.
We've laid out some easy ways to support your local farmer's (and community) below.
Patronize your local grocer instead of chain supermarkets:
Smaller grocers are the middlemen that make local foodstuffs available to you every day of the week. Often, they sell value-added products such as cheese, jams and jellies, canned goods, and salsas that may not be available at the weekend markets. At the very least, let the big players know you’d like to see more local options on their shelves. Local isn’t just a fad—it’s an economic force—and management knows that.
Shop at Farmer's Markets:
Farmers markets aren’t a new thing, but they have become much more visible and plentiful in many areas in recent years. Variety is the spice of life, so don’t limit yourself to staples you’ve eaten a thousand times. Farmers at the markets offer a diversity of fruits and vegetables and often provide recipes, or share easy ways to prepare foods with which you may not be so familiar.
With local farmers markets, you can not only know where your food comes from, but you can talk to the people who produce it. If there are any questions about availability or safety of food sources, simply ask them; they want happy customers!
Join a CSA:
Buy a Community Supported Agriculture share to ensure you get the freshest picks every week. Many CSAs deliver right to your door, or you can visit the farm to pick up your goodies, where you can ask to meet the people who grow your food in person. This is an excellent way to get kids involved in learning how important sustainable agriculture is for their future.
To join a CSA, talk to your local farmer or look on the farm’s website to see if they offer a program (not all farms do). You can also find a local CSA by plugging your zip code into the Local Harvest website.
Eat at Farm-to-Table Restaurants and Cafés:
Planning a birthday dinner or a special date night? Choose farm-to-table restaurants. You may pay a little more, but your purchase will help local farmers continue to provide food for their community, and more importantly, it won’t be teeming with hormones, antibiotics and GMOs.
When eating at a farm-to-table restaurant, this means you will be eating seasonal fruits and vegetables. Although, you can get a lot of produce year round at the grocery store that doesn’t mean it’s in season. Adding in-season foods to your diet (especially from a local farmer) enhances the nutrients and excitement of meals at home.
Help Farmers Market Themselves:
Many farmers are so busy, well, farming, that they don’t have enough time for marketing. A well-placed post (especially with a photo) on social media can do wonders for their morale, and their bottom line. Better yet, if you have marketing experience, offer a few hours of volunteer time or work out a trade for product. Everybody wins!