With so many restaurants, schools, and events closing around the country, small farmers are at risk of losing a large portion of their income. But you can still support the small farms near you, while buying fresh, organic foods for you and your family, even as we practice social distancing in an effort to curb COVID-19.
Here are three ways you can buy fresh, healthy foods and help the local farms stay in business:
1. It's never been a better time to join a CSA! Anyone can buy a share of a local farm through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. Investing in a CSA gives you the freshest fruits and vegetables that your favorite local farm has harvested each week! CSAs are typically delivered to you for a small fee or you can pick them up from a central location, but there is minimal person-to-person contact involved in the hand-off of produce and farms are implementing best food safety practices.Since you're investing in the same farm for the entire season and eliminating any supermarkets or other retail middlemen, joining a CSA is the most direct way you can financially support your favorite local farmers. It's also a great excuse to try new fruits and vegetables. Find a CSA near you.
2. Go to the farmers' market! Like grocery stores, USDA has classified farmers' markets as essential businesses, and many remain open throughout this period of social distancing. Farmers' markets offer a safer shopping experience than supermarkets do because they are open air and spacious with more distance between shoppers than a grocery store while offering the freshest fruits and vegetables around! The temporary nature of the booths allows for easy cleaning and less contact with people as well.
Find a farmers' market near you, but remember to call to make sure that it's one of the farmer's markets still in operation before you go!
3. Order takeout or delivery from farm-to-table restaurants. Many restaurants are still offering takeout and delivery meals during this time. Don't worry about contracting coronavirus from food. The CDC has stated that there is no evidence that the COVID-19 can start in your gastrointestinal tract, and that your stomach acid would likely inactivate the virus upon contact.
Both restaurants and the farms they source from are vulnerable to going out of business in an economic downturn brought on by these necessary COVID-19 precautions because both business models have very thin profit margins. Most local farms get a good chunk of their income from farm-to-table restaurants, which has been drastically reduced or removed entirely as we stay home to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further.
The restaurants that are open for takeout and delivery near you will vary from location to location. Seek out independent restaurants that buy produce from local farms. Farm-to-table restaurants often list the farms they source from in the descriptions of the relevant dishes on their menus.
Thank you for helping us protect our local food system, and our health, during this trying time. Eat well and stay safe!