5 Tips To Shopping Local

Ever wondered if you’re close to a farm or driving distance to an orchard? Believe it or not, you probably are! For example, there are several small farms in close proximity to New York City so urban dwellers have the opportunity to secure produce, meats, and dairy from local farms.

Why Local?

1. It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based.*

2. It takes a lot of resources to raise cows, and it’s especially bad if you buy beef from somewhere like Brazil, where it was grazed on land that used to be tropical forest but was cleared for agricultural use.  Deforestation is a top contributor to carbon emissions and thus climate change.*

Aside from contributing your efforts towards limiting your carbon footprint, you’re also encouraging the authenticity of “organic” produce. If you’re not sure how to get started in acquiring local produce, we’ve got some tips and benefits outlined for you.

Understand Seasonality.

It’s helpful to know what’s in season in your region.  With this information, you could plan ahead with recipes for your family.  You’ll be able to offer your family organic, healthy, wholesome produce.

Benefit: Seasonal produce will help you limit your exposure to pesticides and other toxins.

Shop at Farmers’ Markets.

By shopping at farmers markets, you increase your changes of securing locally grown products. You’ll likely see various seasonal vegetables and fruits as well as products such as honey, breads and jams.  Note:  Be suspicious of any market that features bananas – unless you’re in Hawaii or Florida, of course!

Benefit: Providing your local farmers’ markets with business helps them sustain their efforts to providing you with the best products.

Join Community Supported Agriculture.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) connects you with a farm or a group of farms.  You’ll be connected based on a few factors include zip code and preferences of delivery.  If you do this, you don’t get to create a list but instead will receive whatever has been harvested for that week of the season.

Benefit: You’ll increase your exposure to foods you wouldn’t likely buy if you had a choice thus increasing your nutrition exposure and not to mention everything is FRESH. If you’re cooking, you’ll be saving money as well!

Ask for Food Origins.

Want to know where your coffee, seafood and meat comes from? Scope out the grocery stores in the area to see if food origins are noted and if not, ask the store or section manager.  Look for signs marking the source of seafood, meat, poultry, and produce.  You’ll find that health food stores are more likely to specify, however, it is worth asking.

Benefit: It’s always educational to know what regions produce what foods.

Befriend Local Purveyors.

Explore the neighborhood or town for local purveyors of cheese, breads, butchers and coffee roasters.  While you may not cook with these items, you’re supporting the local food system.

Benefit: You’ll certainly receive excellent quality from your local purveyors and you’re also supporting community business

Grow Your Own Garden.

Why not be the “local” resource? If you have the space and the means, growing your own garden is one of the best ways to ensure top quality produce.  Many people grow their own herbs or easy vegetables such as lettuce varieties, carrots, and cucumbers.

Benefit: You’re in control of what you grow, what you pick and what you eat.

Once you get the hang of how to shop local, it’ll become easy to create a system.  You will be able to plan recipes and optimize your family’s nutrition with some of our suggestions.  Not to mention — everything will just taste better! Do you have any tips to share? Would love to hear how you go about finding local and seasonal produce.