During this week of resolutions, here are a few suggestions for folks wanting to eat real food from real people:
JOIN a CSA. A Community Supported Agriculture program is the best way to ensure that you’ll have local food every week from spring to fall. You give a farmer money upfront and you get fresh produce (and sometimes more) throughout the growing season. Debbie Roos of Chatham County Extension Service publishes a great list of CSAs around the state. Another good resource for CSAs and everything else is www.localharvest.org, a national online directory. Things to consider before signing up: pickup convenience, box size, organic vs. sustainable vs. conventional, variety of offerings, communication with other members, etc.
BECOME A MEMBER of a food co-op. Our state’s many food cooperatives offer a mix of local and non-local sustainable goods. They also build communities of folks interested in green and clean foods and products.
COMMIT to shopping at a farmers’ market. With hundreds across the state, there’s no excuse not to. Not all markets are equal, so choose yours based on what’s important to you. Does your market focus on sustainable, conventional or offer a mix of farms? From how many miles does the market source? Around 75 miles is the norm, with some, such as Carrboro, limiting supplies from an impressive 50 miles.
SEEK alternatives. If none of the above work for you, look into food buying clubs and food delivery services. These are popping up all over. If you can’t find any of these options in your area, let me know and I’ll do some digging. Speaking of digging, another way to locally source food is to grow your own. For more variety, set up a neighborhood share with other gardeners. An added benefit: You’ll meet your neighbors!