A few weeks ago, on a trip to Madison, I got to go to the farmer’s market – BY MYSELF!!! No diaper bag, no stroller, no emergency trips to the potty. Just me and all those beautiful vegetables! I had such a good time loading up my bag and dreaming about what I was going to make for dinner that night. Admittedly, going to the farmer’s market used to be 90% entertainment, 10% actual shopping but now I look at it as an important resource for feeding my family.
We are so spoiled to be able to buy almost any fruit or vegetable at any time of the year. And as we cruise through the grocery store, it’s so easy not to even think about where that food is coming from. But there’s been a lot of press lately about the benefits of buying local vs. buying food (organic or not) that’s been shipped across the country, or even farther. For one thing, fewer ‘food miles’ means a lot less impact on the environment. When I really think about it, I would rather have fresh, conventionally grown green beans from a local farm than organic ones trucked all the way from California. And in case you didn’t know, lots of local farmers use organic practices even though they have not gone through the long and expensive process of being certified organic. Check out this link for the top 10 reasons why eating local is the way to go.
Of course, the farmer’s market is not the only way to go. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares are a great way to get delicious locally grown produce and support a local farm at the same time. If you plug in your zip code to the Local Harvest website you can get a listing of CSA’s in your area. Your local coop and Whole Foods-type stores are another great resource. And fortunately, more and more traditional supermarkets are labeling where their food comes from and are providing local options.
For those of us in colder climes, the biggest challenge comes in winter when there’s nary a green thing to be found. All I can suggest is, if you can squeeze in the time to freeze or can anything, you will reap great rewards! I have not yet delved into canning but I do freeze some things, including my all-important pesto (the kids love it!!)
Bottom line is, whether it’s organic or not, buying local is a feel-good thing! Here’s what I made after my awesome solo trip to the Madison farmer’s market.
P.S. If you’re interested in the origins of your food, you should probably read The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. I have not read it yet but from what I’ve heard it is fascinating, troublesome and you’ll never look at a field of corn again the same way.