Increasingly, people are trying remain more environmentally conscious and live more sustainably. Getting your vegetables locally is a step in that direction. For fresh organic and sustainable products, visit a farmers market, plant your own vegetable garden or buy CSA (or Community Supported Agriculture) produce.
Why Buy Local Food?
- When you buy close to home, you get fresher food and support small, local farms.
- Cutting out the middleman, like at a farmers market, can save you money.
- Seasonal, locally grown fruits and veggies are generally of higher quality.
- You will save energy and reduce your carbon footprint by cutting out long-distance hauling.
What Are CSAs?
A CSA is a popular way to directly buy weekly baskets of seasonal vegetables from local farmers. Some CSAs also sell shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit and other farm products. In most places, the season starts off light, with salad greens, peas and green onions. Later in the season, the boxes are heavier with produce like winter squash, potatoes, tomatoes and broccoli.
Organic vs. Naturally Grown vs. Sustainable
Organic certification standards are very strict, as the land must be free of all pesticide and chemical residue. With animal products, the term refers both to what they consume (no antibiotics or hormones) and their environment. These products are generally more expensive.
Some farms aren’t certified organic but still follow “naturally grown” organic principles. Ask farmers about their practices to see whether their products are naturally grown.
Although certification doesn’t exist, “sustainable” typically means “food produced with minimal waste.” When you buy from organic or local food producers who treat their employees well, you’re also buying sustainable food. These producers also strive to maintain healthy ecosystems with minimal negative impact to the environment.
Check out your local farmers market, open during growing season in outdoor, public spaces. In addition to finding locally grown vegetables and fruit, you can also often find locally produced cheeses, baked goods, juice and other items.
Grow Your Own Food
- Plant your own herb garden.
- Grow your favorite produce. Seed growers and farmers sell nursery stock for vegetables such as cucumber, eggplant and broccoli.
- If you’re short on yard space, join a community garden and grow herbs, fruits and vegetables with a group of people.
Cooking With Local Food
Any recipe can be adjusted to include organic or sustainable products. Use as many locally or naturally grown products as possible for anything from roasted vegetables with basil to blackberry brunch cake.
Tips to Live and Eat More Sustainably
- Stick to seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Visit butcher shops and produce markets, and eat smaller portions of meat, or on a less regular basis.
- Produce less garbage by buying whole chickens, fish or blocks of cheese.
- Find out more about free range, pasture-raised meat products.
- At stores such as Whole Foods or your local grocer, ask for local products. But be sure to ask about their definition of “local,” whether it’s down the road, within 100 miles or within a day’s drive.
- Start composting, or recycling organic waste into the soil of your garden.