After a month of my challenge to eat only locally raised/grown food, I thought we could talk about where to find locally grown food. I’d also love it if you chimed in with your tips as well in the comments.
6 places to find locally grown foods
1. farmers markets
If you’re new to your town/city or just don’t quite know where to look, check out Local Harvest.org to search for markets in your area. I’ve noticed in the past that not all of them are listed for my surrounding area, but it does cover most everyone.
Farmers markets are a great way to pick up local produce and talk with the people that grow the food. Just be gentle when you ask them about their farming practices – I have found that farmers don’t really like to hear that what they do (and how hard they work) just isn’t good enough. Simply asking how the crops are doping this year is always a good “in”.
These markets are also great because you’ll be able to find a large variety of locally grown foods, most of which have been picked within a day of sale.
One thing to watch out for those are the farmers that bring in crops that they buy from other farmers, some from out of state. Yes – you heard that right. Some farmers will buy bulk produce from out of state (especially when their own crops have been ruined due to weather/bugs/etc) and they will sell it at their table without letting you know it’s from someone else. (last week I noticed one in our market selling grapes from Oregon – I’m in Michigan) So if your market doesn’t have any rules against this – just ask.
2. farmers stands
One of the benefits of living out in farm country, is that in the summer time many small farmers put out produce on roadside stands. I have a few of them within about 4 miles of my house, so running out to grab local produce doesn’t take much time or gas. If you live on the outskirts of town, try asking around to see if you have family or friends that have seen local roadside stands. Or take a Sunday drive and check out the area yourself.
3. health food stores
Most of my local health food stores carry locally grown produce along with some locally raised meats, eggs, and dairy. In fact, I was actually able to find some Michigan made yogurt last week on my weekly grocery run. They can also be able to tell you exactly which farm your products came from as they have a more intimate relationship with the farmers versus a large scale store.
The local food movement has made great strides over the last few years and supermarkets are starting to get the hint. We have a couple of grocery stores in my area that buy produce locally and mark it as local food. While I would rather buy directly from the farmer (so that they receive more funds than if they have to sell it to a larger store where it’s marked up for sale), this can be a good option for those who are unable to track down local options themselves.It’s also a great way to “vote with your money”.
And if your store don’t sell local foods – ask them to! If enough people ask for local options they may start to consider it.
5. butcher shops
Many cities have locally run butcher shops and these can be a great place to purchase locally raised meat. Some buy from larger distributors and resell, so you will have to ask where the meat is coming from, but many are starting to buy from local farmers. the one nearest my house has also begun selling both grass-fed and organic options. (though the organic is not grass-fed…..so we go for the grass-fed but not organic option. I find that the texture of the meat and fat is better with grass-fed than organic, but kept in a barn meat)
They may also sell local (or at least semi-local) cheeses and eggs as well.
6. go to/begin with google
If you’re coming up empty-handed trying to find local foods, or if you’re just starting to do the searching, beginning with a web search can offer lots of information in a short amount of time.
Local Harvest – find farmers’ markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.
Eat Wild – Producers listed on Eatwild certify that they meet our exacting criteria, assuring that their animals and the land are well-treated, that their products are exceptionally high in nutrition and free of antibiotics and added hormones. Products include: Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal, Goat, Elk, Venison, Yak, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys, Eggs, Milk, Cheeses, Produce, Nuts, Berries, Wild-Caught Salmon and more!
Weston A Price Foundation – find a local chapter of this foundation and you may also find a wealth of resources, especially if you live in an area where the “real food” is also an underground movement.
Meetup – this site is not exclusively for food, but many of the meetups that you find locally could be of interest. The WAPF groups, primal/paleo groups, vegetarian groups, etc, etc, are listed within this site. So search through them for your area if all else fails, and get together with a group of real food enthusiasts.
Real Milk – This site is specifically for finding fresh, unprocessed milk through many of the farms may also sell other products or be able to point you to farms that sell what you need.
Do you have any other tips (or online resources) for finding local food?
Another great option for fresh local produce is a CSA. So have you been able to find local organic (or at least chemical free) produce? We have a great amount of farmers markets and stands in lower AL but no one really grows things without pesticides and chemicals. It is so frustrating because I had an easier tme finding better produce when we lived in KS! I’m just curious if you opt for local over shipped in even if it is not grown organic and/or chemical free?
@Andrea Merrigan, Yes, CSAs are great options!
As for the local vs organic…….I have been able to find ‘naturally grown’ produce, with minimal to no spray. MOST of the time. Other times I don’t really have a choice other than to buy produce grown in either other countries or hundreds of miles away (if I want organic). Most of the time I try to at least buy non-organic items off of the “clean 15” list on the EWG site. The other times I try to either avoid OF buy it as little as possible.
I am like you in that I buy at our local farmers market but have learned to always ask if chemical. Many are but have paid the steep price for the organic certification. I am this summer growing some of my own organic veggies, I now have my own chicken tractor with 4 hens and now getting a few eggs and will soon try my first time at raising chickens for meat. I live in NC and luckily we can have chickens in our yards and have a meat processing plant near by. I do buy non local organic food if I can’t find organic local. Thanks for all your helpful hints. There are some of us old folks who want to eat healthy too.