It has come to my attention lately, and maybe yours too, that eating local is important. Some say it is more important than eating organic!
Eating Local is Awesome
1. Because you will be supporting farming and business practices you care about with your dollars! Did you know I have a degree in Finance and studied economic policy in Washington D.C? I don’t talk about it much here, but the point is that it ingrained in me the power of the almighty dollar. Where you spend it is important, and one of the ways to change our world. I started seeing grass-fed beef at my regular Kroger-owned Q.F.C. a couple of weeks ago. This weekend the selection was bigger. It might have happened earlier but since they don’t offer what I want, I haven’t shopped there recently. Now I am more likely to buy there. Spending money on causes you believe in is important and helps them grow.
2. You can support your local economy and, consequently, yourself! Did you know that US economy is made up of mostly small businesses? As a daughter and daughter-in-law of small business owners (I mean SMALL 3-5 person operations), I have been learning about the local economy for a long time! Supporting local businesses puts dollars into our neighbors pockets. Spending money at a large chain has a local economic impact too, but some money also goes to people who probably live far away from you. This is not a bad thing, but your community doesn’t benefit. The owner, workers and lots of the vendors the company buys things from are local, and now have more money to spend on something YOU produced. Even if you are not a business owner, people wandering around in your area with more money in their pockets means more sales for the company you work for, potential growth of your business and possible raises/promotions! Lots of wins!
3. Maybe the most important reason to eat local food is to know thy food. When you eat local you can learn more about the food, either from a chatty farmer or maybe the informative packaging, or from the neighbor you are trading with. You can know so much more about what makes up the food you use to fuel, nourish, and heal your body. When you think about all food does for us, it seems paramount to choose stuff raised right, by good people and not smothered in poison!
Now that I have talked your ear off about why this locavore thinks eating food close to home is important, how can we improve?
A Few Easy Options
1. Farmers Market – Head here once a week instead of the grocery store. See something you don’t recognize? Ask about it! It’s a great way to build a relationship, learn a new recipe or two and start cooking with the seasons.
2. Head over to EatWild and start searching around for local farms that meet your specifications. Grassfed meat and poultry? They have that. Local delivery important to you? You can find that too! Beef, pork, lamb, chickens, eggs, turkeys even, they’ve got that too!
3. Try this APP for your phone, called Locavore – “LOCAVORE is the easiest way to find local, in-season food. Pinpoint nearby farmers’ markets & farms that sell the products you love. Discover seasonal recipes. Share it all on Facebook. Yup, it’s free.”
4. Another great site is Local Harvest where you can search for CSA’s farmers’ markets and buying direct from farms. This is a huge resource.
The Expensive Route
1. Hit up your local natural foods store like Whole Foods, or a local co-op. The price can vary a lot, but remember a lot of people are taking a cut when you buy from a grocery store: a farm, butcher, delivery company, and the store itself… so prices are often higher.
1. Garden – I would chalk this up as creative and fun! I love to garden and it’s probably a subject I should talk about more often. You’ll hear me mention it in the podcast a lot. You don’t have to start huge. A little window box with some salad greens is an easy way to get going. See where it takes you, and how much you love a summer salad after that!
2. Swap/Barter – This is what I really want to talk about! It’s something I do now and hope to keep doing more of. I first heard of food swaps somewhere on the internet, where I hear most things. So I started one and put on four events last year. As a gardener it made perfect sense. During harvest myself and my parents have WAY TOO MUCH to eat. I am not an expert at canning and putting things up yet, and I can only give away so much before food starts to spoil.
Swapping was fun and I will link to some resources for finding a a local or starting a swap below.
But what the swap really added to my life was more local people making their own food and interested in the same stuff as me. Now I am lucky enough to swap 2-3 dozen fresh chicken eggs every two weeks for 3-4 pounds of fresh bread. My swap buddy has 15 hens, so she has a lot of eggs, and I like to bake bread and have a big Bosch mixer. We both end up ahead at the end of the day and no money changes hands. If you are struggling with food quality, start here if you can. Gardens and backyard chickens are more and more common these days. Barter something you can offer – maybe a service, or Art, or a plot in your backyard for someone else to till. The options are endless if you’re creative. The best part of all, you’ll make lots of like-minded new friends!
- Food Swap Network- Looks like they are building a new site, so this goes to their facebook page. They have listings for different swaps in all sorts of places.
- My Seattle Swap Site– I built this quick on WordPress so have a place to put all the info for swap participants. You could do something similar if you are starting a swap
- You can always contact me with questions too!