Explore & Ask
Go to a farmer's market, not just to walk around but when you actually need groceries! I oftentimes see people walk right through and not buy anything, and they most likely are heading to the grocery store afterwards. If you have never cooked with the foods you see, ask the vendors what they like to do with them! Go out of your comfort zone. In doing that you learn how to cook seasonally and you will end up eating a much better variety of food than you usually do!
Sit down a make a plan for a few meals that can involve multiple farm's items. For example. there may be a farm selling asparagus, another one selling farm raised pork and lard for cooking, another selling mushrooms, and another selling microgreens. And then you find different farmers making cheese and bread, as well as honey, maple syrup, and coffee. Before you know it you have many of the ingredients you need to cook at home!
Take a good look at your regular grocery list and see what you can directly replace with a local product or think of local products you may be able to substitute. You may not be able to find granular sugar but you can substitute that with local honey! Maybe you want to make tacos, you can get the pork or chicken at the market, you can get salad greens, radishes or carrots, and maybe even flour or corn meal from the local Co-op for the tortillas! There are a lot of ways to substitute ingredients, you just have to get creative.
This week's recipe is a collection of locally bought foods going into one dinner! I will post the link here.
Remember that you don't have to make ALL of your meals local, but the more that you can buy from local farms, the better. If we all come together and support local farms with our money, imagine how successful they would all become? Instead of purchasing from a grocery store where we don't know what they spray on our food to kill pests or what they pay their workers, purchase from a farm that can answer all those questions happily! There are more year round farmer's markets popping up as some farms have heated greenhouses or even grow indoors. Focus your spending where you want to see businesses thrive and you will be surprise what they might be able to do with it. They may be able to expand and offer even more products that you may have only found at the grocery store before. A dollar spent locally is more likely to be reinvested in local businesses and therefore circling back to the consumer quicker.
Awhile back I wrote a blog post about pesticides on our food and which foods are the best/worst, and I found out that on the average Kale leaf in the grocery store there was 5.6 different types of pesticides found on it (source). Which goes to show you that even if something is a health food, you still need to know where it comes from and how it has been treated. I personally think I can taste if a kale leaf has pesticides because it tastes much more bitter than kale that hasn't been sprayed.