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Dive into the Savorable Journey of Supporting Local Farms, CSA’s, and Local Farmers

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Hello eco-conscious enthusiasts! ? Welcome to Part 1 of my new Blog Series, My Year of Living Local. I wanted to focus my first post on eating locally because food is the biggest consumable in our lives–LITERALLY. Before we get into it, I wanted to mention my favorite new book called The Self-Sufficient Backyard. Talk about local! It doesn’t get more local than your own backyard. I’m hoping to a do a gardening post as we get closer to springtime!

In the meantime, let’s talk about locally grown food! Have you noticed how food is basically the VIP guest at the daily feast of our lives? From breakfast bagels, to main entrees, side dishes, to midnight snacks, it’s the star of our show. There are many things we can go without, but WE ALL HAVE TO EAT. So it makes sense to start with FOOD! Now, imagine if that superstar was also the eco-warrior of our story. Making our food journey sustainable isn’t just a trend; it’s a power move. Our daily choices impact the planet – from farm practices to packaging waste. There will be much more to come on my Year of Living Local, but I wanted to start here!

Oil Miles

Oil miles, or sometimes known as food miles, are like the jet-setting frequent flyer miles of our groceries. ?? These are the miles our food racks up during its journey from the farm to our plates, and let’s be real – it’s no short hop. Most food in a traditional grocery store is grown in one place, packed in another, shipped from another. This tag-team effort adds up the oil miles. Your veggies, fruits, and goodies hitch a ride on trucks, planes, and ships, clocking in travel miles like they’re on a world tour. All of that travel burns fossil fuels, releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. So, the more oil miles our food racks up, the bigger the carbon footprint. That’s why getting cozy with locally grown food means fewer miles, less pollution, and a greener planet!

Pollution

Big agriculture is also a big polluter. Factory farms MAY be more efficient, but are they more environmentally friendly than small family farms? Efficiency does not concern itself with the health of the soil, treatment of employees, or animals. Soil regeneration is essential for carbon sequestration. Efficiency doesn’t concern itself with the misuse of anti-biotics, crowding animals into cruel and unsanitary conditions, growth hormones, animal waste, water contamination, or worker exploitation. Concentrating animals in crowded conditions INCREASES methane production. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the only greenhouse gas. Methane is one of the biggest contributors to global climate change. We are being bombarded with methane from factory farms and landfills. Smaller farms and regenerative agriculture are essential to lowering methane greenhouse gas emissions.

Freshness

You can’t beat the freshness of the farmers’ market. Food grown locally was likely picked within the same week! You won’t find these unique varieties in your regular grocery aisle, and yeah, they might not last as long, but they are more flavorful and have higher nutritional values. Most store bought produce is plucked before it’s ripe, coated in wax, ethylene gas, or chemicals, all in an effort to “look” fresh and extend the shelf life. Locally produced food isn’t typically loaded with mysterious additives. It also hasn’t had to travel halfway across the globe.

Less Packaging

Did you know that a whopping eight million tons of plastic trash made its way into the ocean? And guess what? It’s forecasted to double by the year 2030! When will this madness stop? Buying from local farmers, CSAs or produce box companies can dramatically lower your plastic waste. For example, my CSA reuses a lot of the plastics they give me. I remove the food from the packaging and put them back in the box to be reused next week. Local farmers typically keep the packaging to a minimum. If you’re visiting a farmer’s market you can also bring your reusable bags, and you’re all set! ???

produce box csa

1. Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSAs) (Also called Farm Shares)

Meet CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)–your ticket to a foodie adventure that’s good for the planet and your taste buds. A CSA is a business (and possibly a worker cooperative) that works with local farmers to bring food directly to your door (without the same level of processing, packaging, or transportation, associated with grocery stores).

Similar to farmer’s markets, CSAs provide “farm to table” produce, dairy, and meats from local farmers. If locally grown, the produce is likely in season for your particular area. For example, I’m in North Carolina. I buy cucumbers in the summer and apples in the fall. If you’re in the USA you can find your local CSA here. (Click here for Canada, UK, or Australia). My CSA buys tropical food items from longer distances (such as bananas or oranges), but most food from my CSA is locally grown. Purchasing locally is important because there are (oil miles) in each food mile.

Surprisingly my farmer’s market and CSA are cheaper than the grocery store. CSAs work directly with your local farmers and cut out the middlemen. When you purchase from a grocery store there are more steps to get food to your table.

  • GROCERY STORE – Farmer>Distributor>Processor>Transporter>Grocery Store. Versus

  • CSA – Farmer>CSA>Your Table.

So if you can afford it, try out your local CSA or go local farmer’s market.

farmers markets buy local

2. Farmer’s Markets 101

Farmer’s Markets are kinda trendy now! Picture this: a local hub full of shoppers with bohemian vibes, man buns, skinny jeans, city dwellers– buying fresh veggies, fruits, and handmade goodies straight from local farms and artisans. ?? That’s cool if that’s your thing, but what if that’s not your thing? What if you’re a suburban soccer mom? Well, thankfully Farmer’s Markets aren’t just for hipsters! Farmers’ markets ARE EVERYWHERE! They aren’t just for designer veggies. They’re the real deal, and here’s why: A farmers’ market is where local farmers and producers set up shop to sell their fresh, seasonal goods directly to the community. Buying from local farmers HELPS YOUR LOCAL COMMUNITY. You can find a local farmer’s market near you here. Farmer’s Markets are also a great place to interact with the people who grow your food! When you visit a farmer’s market you’re actively participating in your local community and you may even make a new friend.

Benefits for the Consumer:

  • Cut the middle-man, slash overhead costs.
  • Enjoy local, fresher, and healthier foods.
  • Embrace variety – organic produce, free-range eggs, handmade cheeses.
  • Socialize, meet neighbors, and take a healthy outdoor stroll.

Benefits for the Farmer:

  • Pocket most of the profit from their sales.
  • Handle and store goods less, reducing costs.
  • Skip wholesalers and control unsold goods.

Benefits for the Community:

  • Boost local business traffic.
  • Give towns character and pride.
  • Strengthen social ties and community spirit.

produce csa box farm shares

3. Local Farms

Local farmers don’t necessarily have the biggest advertising budgets, so they may be hard to find. So first off, hit up the good ol’ internet. The www is your farmer-finding sidekick. Type in “local farms near me” or “farmers markets nearby.” You’ll have a list ready to roll. Here are a few websites to get you started. Local Harvest, American Indian Foods, Farm Match, Farmers.gov, Eat Well Guide, and Winter Markets.

Next stop, social media. I rarely use Facebook, but I do use it to find local vendors. Check out local groups or pages on Facebook or Instagram.

Don’t forget the classic word of mouth. Ask your pals, neighbors, or that friendly barista where they get their farm-fresh fix. Personal recommendations are like gold.

And if all else fails, take a weekend drive. You’ll stumble upon roadside stands or charming barn markets. Sometimes, the best finds are the unexpected ones. ??

4. Commercial Produce Boxes

If CSAs, farmer’s markets, or local farms aren’t an option for you, then I would recommend a commercial produce box. A few of my favorite produce boxes are: Hungry Harvest, Imperfect Foods, Misfits Market, and Odd Box (UK). Produce boxes come in various sizes depending on your needs. They are typically a mix of organic mixed fruits and veggies based on the season. Some of the produce boxes allow you to edit your weekly haul as needed. The local produce box service I use allows me to pick and choose the items I want that week, including farm fresh eggs, dairy, and meats.

Conclusion

In embracing CSAs, exploring vibrant farmer’s markets, or diving into the diverse offerings of produce boxes, you’re not just making food choices – you’re shaping a sustainable future. These avenues champion local economies, reduce carbon footprints, and foster a profound connection between consumers and the Earth. As conscious consumers and environmental stewards, every choice we make has a ripple effect on the planet. So, let’s pledge to support local farmers, savor the seasonal delights, and relish the joy of nourishing ourselves while caring for the environment. Together, we can sow the seeds of a greener, healthier world. Join the movement – choose local, choose sustainable, and let’s cultivate a future where every bite is a step towards a more harmonious planet. ??✨

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#BuyLocal #FarmersMarkets #ConsciousConsumption