Five (more) Ways to Change Your Food Supply

Yep, it’s Five Things Wednesday again.  Last week, you’ll recall, we discussed ways to get the food you want on your local supermarket shelves.  If that didn’t work for you, or if you’re feeling brave enough to move beyond the supermarket, here are five ways to get closer to to where your food originates (without having to actually farm).

1.)  The CSA.  No, not the Confederate States of America, Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you contract with a local farm (or group of farms) to pre-pay for a share of their crop.  No, that does not make either you or them a sharecropper.  It means that whatever comes out of the ground every week during growing season gets delivered to you (or you go pick up at a designated location).

2.)  Co-Op.  Community Owned Market.  A funky little grocery store (usually) that you get to own a piece of.  Generally a non-profit, your co-op is (or should be) focused on working with local farms, ranches and other food producers – bakers, etc. – to put local food on their shelves at the best possible price.

3.)  Farmers Market.  I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about here.  You should be able to find one or more close to you, although they tend to be inconvenient in that you have to show up on the one or two days a week they are open, and you’ll have to figure out the rhythm of your favorite vendors to figure out when they are most likely to be there and ready to do business.  By the way, farmers markets are often “drop points” for CSA’s.

4.)  Locally-Owned Small Grocers.  Think outside the chain.  Here’s a hint:  If you can do all your shopping there – including paper goods, pharmacy items and ten-packs of ballpoint pens, you’re unlikely to find quality local produce.  The thing that separates this from a co-op is that you don’t own it, and the people who do are actually trying to make a buck.  Which means they’re probably (but not always) more organized and professional, with an easier shopping experience than a co-op.

5.)  The Internet.  You may be familiar with this thing they call The Google.  You can type words like “local produce Gainesville Florida” into it and – get this – it will go find websites that tell you where to find local produce in Gainesville, Florida.  I know, crazy talk.

 

Finding local food isn’t easy, but it’s something you should do, if for no other reason than to know what’s in your food.  You don’t get to ask anybody at Tyson Chicken what they feed their chickens.  If you buy chicken from the guy at the farmers market you can ask him anything you want, and you probably won’t be able to get him to stop talking about his chickens.  That’s a good thing.

You’ll find out all sorts of weird things about food if you source it fresh.  Did you know food is supposed to be colorful?  That’s a hard lesson to learn if you’re buying your produce from the Wal-Mart SuperCenter.  You’ll find out that food doesn’t come out of the ground pre-washed.  And that it tastes better. But that might only be because you had to work harder to get it to your table.

As I may have mentioned here before, I don’t always make the best choices about any of this stuff.  But our family is working toward it.  It’s worth it, and I recommend that you do the same.  It’s good for your body and for the world we all live in.

Thanks for reading – don’t be shy about sharing!

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Amy on February 8, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    We’re on our third CSA box and LOVE what it forces us to do. We purposefully signed up in the winter, when people complain about getting nothing but root vegetables and kale, because we knew it would only get better. But you know what the cure for all CSA boxes is? STIR FRY! All those green leafies cook down and you get a ton of vitamins (and clear out the fridge!) really quickly.

    We pay just $25 for a “small mixed” box, which this week came with a bunch of kale, romaine lettuce, a bunch of spinach, some leeks, a bunch of carrots, three naval oranges, two apples and I think a bunch of shallots. I shop at a produce store instead of the supermarket (fewer overdoses in the bathroom there) and $25 is about what I’d expect to pay for a haul of that size. And all of it is ripe when I receive it, and because it wasn’t something mindlessly picked up at the Safeway, we’re sure to eat it ALL. I definitely think it pays off. It’s like a victory every time we polish off the last leaf.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Amy on February 8, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Oh, and one more thing (I’m obviously an acolyte): we only get the box every other week. CSAs can be super flexible, because they KNOW you’re probably (sadly) not cooking that many vegetables at home. And ours offers a “mostly fruit” or “mostly veggie” box, too. Oh! AND! Some CSAs (including ours) source from multiple farms, so you get more variety. And that’s all I have to say about it.

    Reply

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