The challenge is making it happen. Getting the farm to appear on your table, in other words. You have three basic options.
1. Grow Your Own
This is the most labor-intensive option, obviously. It can be expensive to set up, and you have to have the space, but if you can find your green thumb – and grow crops that are conducive to your climate, your initial investment will amortize in a season. There’s a lot of satisfaction in being able to pluck a piece of fruit or veg at the peak of its ripeness from your garden and add it to your meal. Further, a productive crop will give you more than you can eat – often communities will host produce swaps so that you can trade your zucchini for the heirloom tomatoes grown by the couple at the other end of your block.
2. Farmer’s Markets
Nearly every city has one of these with more cropping up every year. Some lucky towns have them year round, while others are seasonal. The best ones have stalls that are run by the people who work at the farm or ranch where the food was grown. If you take a moment, they’ll be happy to tell you all about the life of the food, complete with a sample so you can be reminded that a blueberry which spent it’s days under full sun, plumping itself on a diet of chemical-free soil and water, actually tastes the way a blueberry ought to taste. If you take another moment, they’ll even give you recipe tips. Some offer not just raw produce but also products of that produce: olive oils, vinegars, preserves and more. One of the big drawbacks, again, is cost. It can be cheaper to buy in bulk or from a chain, BUT you are less likely to waste food this good. You’ll savor it rather than let it go all slimy in those drawers of your fridge.
3. Community Supported Agriculture
This can be even better than the farmer’s market. Every other Friday, a box of local produce is delivered to my front porch by a very nice farmer who knows my name and greets my son like an old friend. Opening the box is like opening a present. Our program is year-round; like farmer’s markets, the availability depends on the location. If the cost is a little high, remember that you can find out what will be delivered and make a menu and shopping list accordingly. If you stick to what is in your box, you’ll eat a greater variety than you would normally, and you’re “forced” to widen your recipe repertoire.
Eating locally, in season, is truly the best for everyone involved. You keep local farmers in business, you often keep heirloom crops from becoming obsolete, and you get to eat food that tastes the way it was intended to taste: rapturous.
But you don’t have to take my word for it, here are a few more resources:
Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and One Raucous Year of Eating Locally;
Photo Credits: Author