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Local eating tips from your family farmer
By Kate Bogli
The growing season is coming up and it sounds fun to join the club of Local Foodies, but there’s work, kids activities, let’s face it, Life. Who has time to spend all day going around to local farms to gather up food you don’t think your kids or your husband are going to eat anyway? Here are my top five ways to make the transition from a big-box processed food diet to local veggie-based whole foods diet (really, it’s not that scary!)
1. Ask for what you want, but buy what they have. Farmers love feedback from their customers. Want more tomatoes in your CSA share? No nitrates in your sausage? We want to hear what you like and don’t like about what we’re growing because pleasing you will keep you coming back. But if we don’t have this or that just now, don’t walk away with nothing. The recipe called for flank steak and the farmer’s all out? Maybe skirt steak will work just as well, or maybe just change to burgers for dinner. You love roasted carrots? Try parsnips!
2. Try one thing at a time. Start slow and ease into the local eating diet. Changing from eating big brands and packaged foods from the one-stop grocery market to seeking out farmers and eating whole foods is a big change—give yourself time. Try doing one thing this season: Join a CSA, commit to buying meat from a local farm once a week (or once a month), go out for a glass of wine at a local vineyard instead of your favorite restaurant, make the local Farmer’s Market a weekly habit. Any one of these changes can improve the quality of your diet by leaps and bounds.
3. Talk to insiders. Farmers, friends, Facebook and your local health food store are all great places to look to get advice about local eating. Don’t know where to go for milk? Ask your CSA farmer. Who still has shares available at a local CSA? Ask in your local Facebook group. Want bones to make bone broth? Ask how-to at the health food store.
4. Double up. Lots of small farms are now trying to offer more for their customer. They raise meat and also stock local dairy products in their farm store. They grow veggies, but offer meat in their CSA once in a while. Use your resources to find these gems. You might pay a bit more for having all those products in one place, but the reduction in travel time is worth it.
5. Take advantage and try something new. Instead of eschewing the bad, sugar-laden processed stuff (you can do that too!), try adding in more good stuff: try some Bok Choy, or that lean grass feed ground beef. And take advantage of the tools your farmer offers: try the recipes they send out in their CSA newsletter or website. Show up for your farmer’s annual tour day then corner the farmer to ask all your questions. A well-educated eater is a farmer’s best customer.
Try these five tips this summer, and see if you can make some changes that stick. Your farmer and your body will thank you!