Eat local. It seems like everywhere I turn lately, I hear about the importance of eating more local food. It’s fresher and therefore healthier. It requires less transportation and therefore is better for the environment. Even though I live in rural Vermont, eating locally can be a challenge sometimes. Ideally, I’d love to be a localvore and eat food only within 100 miles of where I live. That can be extremely challenging especially in the colder months when we don’t really grow anything here except for snow and frost heaves. Here are five fairly easy ways to find locally grown foods that you should be able to use no matter where you live.
1. Grow it yourself – Even if you aren’t a gardener and don’t have room for a big vegetable garden, you can still grow a pot of herbs on your windowsill or a bucket of tomatoes in the front yard or even on a fire escape provided you have a fair amount of sun. If you don’t get a lot of sun, try lettuce instead.
2. Harvest wild edibles – There are many things that grow outside that we think of as weeds that are actually edible. Even if you live in the city, your local park should at least have dandelions for dandelion greens and nettles. If you’re interested in harvesting wild edibles, please get a good guide book or take a class and be certain you know what you’re eating. In my area, I find quite a variety of wild edibles including ramps and fiddlehead ferns.
3. Check smaller stores & tourist areas for local wares – Our grocery store has a section where they sell only Vermont made products. Just a few things that I find there including maple syrup, honey, crackers from a local business and bread from a local gluten free bakery. What you find will vary depending on what’s typically grown in your area or what your state is known for.
4. Pick your own – We have a number of pick your own berry farms. We also have a pick your own apple orchard and even a potato farm where we can pick our own. This site has a listing of pick your own farms in every state. Take the kids and make a day of it.
5. Look for local farms and farmers markets – We don’t have a huge vegetable garden any longer. As our trees get bigger, the amount of sunshine we gets shrinks. It’s easier for me to purchase our veggies from a local farmer’s market. We also have area farmers that sell grass fed beef, all natural pork, and raw milk. What you have in your area will depend on your location and the laws in your state. Check Local Harvest for a list in your area. They even have a listing of restaurants!
While I may not be able to completely eat local in everything that I do, there are a number of steps I can take to bring more local food into our diets. We choose maple syrup from our trees over white sugar when possible. I grow herbs and a number of fruits on our property instead of buying everything from the grocery store. I know how to identify and prepare a few wild edibles (I make a mean fiddlehead fern quiche). We get eggs from our ducks and chickens and when possible buy local grass fed beef. Have you taken any steps to eat local?