Sourcing locally grown food is a great way to support your community and improve the meals you make. But where do you start? This article gives some great and easy ways to begin sourcing your food closer to home.
”If it could only be like this always — always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe.”- Evelyn Waugh
Sourcing fresh locally-grown food is one of the best and faster ways to improve the food you make. Knowing where to get the best, freshest food is a skill I believe every cook should have.
Whether you are a professional, a home cook, a self-proclaimed chef(a.k.a. me), or just someone who likes to make a few good meals at home. This is a skill I would highly recommend taking the time to learn.
Just like fresh is always best. Yes always, trust me that is one of the very first lessons I learned when cooking and one I’ve relearned more times than I would care to admit.
Cooking in season is also of the best things you can do as a cook. But what’s even better, is finding, fresh, in-season, and local food to cook. Fresh is great, in-season is amazing but fresh and in seasons from the farm down the road, is nothing as you’ve experienced before.
It’s awesome, honestly, there is nothing like it, and it’s downright impossible to beat. Fresh, in season, and local, are three of the most powerful things you can say when it comes to cooking.
But How Do You Start Sourcing Locally Grown Food?
Despite what I said though, I get it. Sourcing local food can be far from easy sometimes, as a matter of fact sometimes it can be downright hard.
If you having a hard time figuring out where to start, if you find the whole idea of sourcing local food a bit overwhelming, then I would like to tell you a couple of things.
- You are not alone. I was there and in many ways I still am, I’ve only just begun to reach my goals in this area. My goal of sourcing the best and most local food I possibly can. The most important thing to do is to just start and the fact that you are reading this right now, tells me you are well on your way already!
- If you aren’t sure where to start or how to go about finding local people and farms to get your food from, look further! Here are some of the best, easiest, and nearly foolproof ways I’ve found to start sourcing your food locally.
Find Your Local Farmers Market
Farmer’s Markets are a great place to start, not only do they give you a chance to buy and taste the local food. It’s also a great way to find out what’s in season, if it’s at the farmer’s market then you know it is in season. They are an awesome place to source quality food, fresh ingredients, and in-season produce.
Plus they are a great way to meet some of your local farmers and find small farms and local vendors. If you are looking for a way to start sourcing more of your food locally then I would highly recommend starting with your local Farmers’ markets.
Challenge yourself this summer to go to the farmers’ market at least every other week and get yourself some great local items and seasonal ingredients. You’ll be amazed by how much a simple step can change how you look at food and greatly improve the recipes you make
One thing I do want to mention here is don’t limit yourself to just the farmers’ market in your hometown. Look up the cities surrounding you, and find out if they have farmers’ markets too. Find out when they start and what days they are, then go and check out some of them, you never know what you might find!
Support Your Local Farmers
The best way to source local food is to go straight to the source. Finding your local farms is a great way to do this. Whether it’s just a farm stand by the side of the road that sells organic produce. Someone who sells pumpkins off a trailer by their barn. Or someone who sells shares in their garden.
Getting to know who your local farmers are and what you can get from them is something you are probably going to wish you had known sooner.
Another great thing about farmers is that they all know each other. The lady with the farm stand can probably tell you who raises poultry, and the farmer with the poultry can tell you where you can buy whole lambs. Most local agriculture communities are still rather close-knit.
And becoming a part of that community in some way or another is a great idea for anyone who loves to cook.
If you really want to find the best, most local fresh food you possibly can, then start by finding the people who grow it. This is also a great way to help support your local businesses and improve your local economy.
I have so many memories from pick-your-own farms, especially strawberry ones, but that is a story for another time. Pick-your-own farms are great places, but I find they are usually overlooked. Thought of it as more of a fun family activity(which they are!) rather than a great place to get fresh local seasonal food.
There is just something about getting to see where your food comes from, about picking it with your own hands. Something about strawberries warmed in the sun and apples fresh off the tree, makes you appreciate food in a whole new way.
Pick-your-own farms are a great and easy way to start when it comes to sourcing local foods and getting to know your local farmers. And they are a great way to teach your kids about how their food is grown and where it comes from. Not to mention they usually save you a few dollars along the way too!
On the same note, be sure to check out your local markets, and community garden. These places are not only great places to find good sustainable food, and local products. But they are also a great way to get involved in your local community and support your local supply chains.
Grow It Yourself
And last but not least, if you want the best, the absolutely most fresh, most locally-sourced food you can possibly get your hands on then this is the option for you. Growing food at home is a great way to ensure you have fresh local food at all times.
Now I’m not saying you need to get a cow just because you have a worrying butter habit. Or that you have to move to the middle of nowhere and start a homestead. If you want to do those things more power to you, if you don’t, that’s fine too.
But growing a garden of some kind is a fun and great way to start sourcing food locally. I’m not great at gardening, I’m not even good at gardening, but I try to grow a few things every year nonetheless. Why? because why not? Growing your own food will give you great flavorful, high-quality foods that you just can’t find at the grocery store.
Reasons I Grow My Own Food
I also grow a few things each year because they are the only way I can source certain fresh ingredients. Personally, I don’t have any local places to get blackberries or huckleberries, so I grow my own. I have the hardest time finding fresh herbs, even in the summer, so I created my own indoor herb garden.
You don’t have to become a great gardener or a farmer, but growing some herbs on the kitchen windowsill or a tomato plant on the back porch won’t hurt anything. Really what’s the worst that could happen?
Another reason I recommend growing your own food or at least growing a plate or two once in your life. Is that no matter how small or simple, there is a pride, a feeling like no other that comes with getting to cook your own food, from scratch, using ingredients you grew with your own two hands. It’s an experience that I believe everyone should get to have at least once.