This is Day 17 of the Green in 365 series!
One of the best ways your family can go green this year is by making more eco-friendly food choices. And one of the best ways to make eco-friendly food choices is to try to source your food locally and in season as much as possible.
If you live in a climate like we do, where most of the ground is covered with snow right now and the temperatures hover around freezing, this can be a hard thing to figure out. How do you eat seasonally and locally when there’s absolutely no way anything could be growing outside?
This is something that our family is working on this year too, right along with you, so we’ll try to figure it out together, okay?!
Photo by Muffet/Flickr
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
• Figure out what is “in-season” in your area. Check this list for a schedule of when things are in season in your state, or this list for a more general idea of what’s in season in the winter.
• Find local meat and dairy. Meat and dairy are always in season and something that most of us eat year round. See if you can find a local farm to order your meat and/or dairy from. The bonus is that you will most likely also get higher quality than what you would find at the grocery store. Many local farmers use organic practices, even if they are not certified organic.
Check Eat Wild for a list of local farms in your state, and also ask like-minded friends and acquaintances where they buy their meat and dairy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised recently to find out about many different options for local, grass-fed meat and dairy in our area that aren’t listed on the Eat Wild site.
• Shop Farmer’s Markets, and ask questions. If you have a farmer’s market that is open year round (we are lucky enough to), check it out and see what’s available this time of year. But, be sure to ask the farmers if the produce was grown locally or not, just because they’re selling it at the Farmer’s Market, doesn’t necessarily mean it was locally grown.
Also, Farmer’s Markets are a good place to start in finding local meat and possibly even dairy. Again, you have to ask questions about how the animals were raised, and not just assume that because they’re at a market that they’re grass-fed, or antibiotic-free, etc.
• Join a CSA. If you have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) available year-round it would be a great way to get fruits and vegetables that were grown locally, and probably try out new-to-you produce at the same time!
• Find other local options. As you use up items in your kitchen and need to buy more, think about finding a way to buy the same items locally. More and more there are co-ops, buying clubs, and natural food stores that are focusing on locally produced food.
Check out this great post at Simple Homemade for more ideas of what’s in-season in the winter, as well as lots of recipes to use some of the produce that you may not be as familiar with.
Do you try to eat seasonally and locally? What are your favorite seasonal winter fruits and veggies?
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[email protected] says
I completely agree with this one! In fact, one of the things I’m posting on my blog every Wednesday is a recipe using a seasonal ingredient! Seasonal/ local eating is less expensive, healthier and just tastes better!
Emily @ Live Renewed says
Thanks Pam, I’ll definitely check out your recipes!
renee@ joyful mom says
I try, I try so hard to eat local but it is hard–especially with smaller kids who do NOT appreciate kale . . . I have found a local (isn) CSA http://www.tomatomountain.com–I'm in Northern IL and they are in WI . . . they DELIVER to my cooler that is on my front porch. They are now delivering almost 12 months out of the year. I’m so excited that I found them. The farm is expanding with eggs and chickens . . . for me this works–I do not have time to drive around to every farmers market to find local organic food–and the kids do not really enjoy me oohhing and ahhhing over corn and onions! We also pick berries in WI and freeze and can them.
Renee at FIMBY wrote a book about starting a buying club http://cafe.tougas.net.
I love the idea of eating local but it does take effort and planning.
Emily @ Live Renewed says
That is so awesome that your CSA delivers right to your porch! That would be so nice to not have to make a trip to a CSA pick up every week! You’re right, local eating does take effort and planning, but even just trying to be more conscious of it is a good place to start. Sounds like you’re doing great!
I’m just now catching up on all these previous posts — and loving everything!! I wanted to point out something that others may not know, as I didn’t know until my husband told me. He works for the NC Department of Agriculture as a meat and poultry inspector. Local butcher shops are inspected almost daily. Grocery store butcher shops are inspected only a few times a year, and they get a call ahead of time when the inspector is on the way. The local shops have to always maintain their standards, whereas the larger stores get to know when they need to get everything cleaned up. Just one more reason to shop locally, and support your local small businesses!