3 interesting ways to find fresh local food

There's a growing movement around eating organic, locally-sourced food, and it's easy to see why. Local food has a smaller ecological footprint, it's fresher, and it supports your community. Here are 3 ways to get started.

3 interesting ways to find fresh local food

1. Pick your own fruits and veggies

  • If you can't grow your own produce, then do the next best thing: pick your own. PYO (pick-your-own) farms are a great alternative to agribusiness food.
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, apples, and pumpkins all lend themselves to the PYO treatment, and you get to trade your labour for a lower price. You get the freshest food possible, spend less money, and get some fun exercise as a bonus!
  • Some PYO farms provide entertainment for young ones, such as hayrides and petting zoos.
  • To find a nearby PYO farm, check out your local newspaper and keep your eyes open for signs that appear on the road or affixed to telephone poles. And ask your friends! Many farms become popular almost entirely through word-of-mouth.

2. Subscribe to a farm

  • Try out community-supported agriculture, or CSA. You get good, fresh food, and you also contribute to the survival of a small farm (the kind that big farms are always driving out).
  • With CSA, subscribers pay a farmer for a certain amount of food every week for the season. You get fresh, in-season produce delivered to your door.
  • Your bag or box of food may be cheaper than what you'd pay for the same items at the grocery store, but the main benefit is the delicious seasonal selection of produce.
  • Keep in mind that there's no requirement for CSAs to be organic, although many are.
  • It can be hard to find a CSA, but you can visit your local health food store for suggestions, or try contacting a local or regional organic farming organization. It's worth the effort!

3. Eat for free in fields of green

  • Some of the most nutritious vegetables in existence await you just outside your door.
  • Plants with dark green leaves like dandelion greens have more nutrients per gram (or ounce) than any other food. Even the dandelion blossoms are good — in pancakes, fritters, salad, and even wine.
  • Another good green is Chenopodium album, commonly called pigweed or lamb's-quarters. It's a common garden weed and grows just about anywhere there's disturbed soil.
  • Ramps, or wild leeks, are so prized that some communities in the southern US build whole festivals around them.
  • As fun as it is, beware of gathering wild plants in any area where herbicides or other poisons have been applied.
  • Avoid anything that can be mistaken for a poisonous plant, and buy a good field guide.
  • If you're interested in mushrooms — and there are many wonderful wild ones to discover — they're in a category all by themselves, and your best bet is to take a class from an expert.
  • Wild food is about as anti-agribusiness as you can get. If you start learning about it and practicing it, you'll not only eat better, you'll have also found an interesting new hobby.

There are lots of alternatives to supporting big commercial factory farms. Use the tips in this guide to find fresher, locally-sourced produce so that you can eat better, save money, and support your community. It really is an "everybody wins" situation.

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