My farmers' market. Isn't it amazing?Last week, I challenged you to eat seasonally, so this week's challenge may seem a little redundant. It was intentional, I promise. Although the last challenge and this one are related, they are not the same, for two reasons:
- You can eat seasonally without eating locally. For example, the produce at the grocery store Aldi is almost always in season, but it probably wasn't grown by a small local farmer.
- Eating seasonally is all about produce, but there's more to local eating than the fruits and vegetables.
I think seasonal eating is a good entry point into local eating. You start with one portion of your overall diet, get used to shopping at the farmers' market, and then branch out into other food categories. So once you've completed the last challenge, here's how you can start on this one:
- Locate your nearest farmers' market. Find out when it opens in the spring and when it closes in the winter, and make a point to make regular visits throughout the growing season.
- Shop at the farmers' market. Start with your produce, then move on to eggs, and finally meat. If there are few options for sustainably raised meat at your farmers' market, check out other sources such as Eat Wild.
- Get to know the farmers and their growing methods. Ask questions: How do you manage bugs? How do you fertilize? How big is your farm? What do you grow? In my opinion, the number one reason to shop at the farmers' market over the grocery store is that you can really know where your food comes from.
- Look for local sources for the other categories in your diet: dairy, nuts, and grains. One caveat here though - not everything grows well in every area. If you can't find locally grown rice, it may be that rice doesn't grow well where you live. And if you do finally find rice, it may be that the farmer used environmentally-taxing methods to get it to grow. Be realistic about how local you can eat, or be prepared to cut some foods out of your diet.