Eating local foods is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and strengthen regional food systems. Not only will you be cutting back on food miles (which decreases greenhouse gas emissions), but you’ll be getting the freshest possible produce. By supporting local producers, you can help create a healthy and resilient food system in your area while building community and preserving open space.
Check out these tips for eating local!
Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets are places where local growers can sell their fresh produce and goods directly to the public. Produce is sold when it is in season, ensuring it is at its peak in both flavor and nutrition. Buying local, organic produce means that you are supporting your region’s farmers, as well as providing your family with the healthiest food possible. Use the USDA search engine to find markets in your area. Check out farmer’s markets when you’re traveling to sample regional specialties.
Join a CSA
Community supported agriculture (CSA) programs are an easy way to buy local, seasonal food directly from the farm. CSA members purchase a subscription, or share, at the beginning of the season and get weekly or monthly deliveries of produce and other foods such as eggs, cheese and breads all season long. CSAs are an easy way to support your local farmers directly and help farms plan for the season, ensuring minimal food waste and profit loss. Find CSAs near you through Local Harvest or Farmigo.
Research Your Restaurants
Choosing restaurants that source nearby helps you support local food systems even when eating out. Patronizing businesses that are transparent about using local sources means that you’re getting better food while supporting the vibrancy of your community. Eat Well Guide is an excellent t resource for researching sustainable restaurants and markets in your area.
Pick Your Own
Visit U-Pick, or “Pick-Your-Own,” farms. These are farms that allow you to pick your own produce. U-Picks are a great chance to see where your food is grown, and a fun activity for friends and family alike! Prices are often lower than they are at the market, so they’re also a good opportunity to preserve any excess produce you end up with. Make sure the farm is organic to ensure a safe and healthy outing.
Grow Your Own
Growing your own food is the ultimate way to eat local. A simple herb garden is an easy way to start growing your own food and doesn’t require much space. Buy organic seeds for a healthy garden. If you have more room, try a raised bed in your backyard for fresh veggies at your fingertips - it doesn’t get more local than that!
To learn more about the benefits of local and seasonal eating check out our Cool Foods Campaign.