Farm-to-table is a lovely thought. It’s healthy, delicious, and sustainable, but for anyone with a job and a family and budget, it can feel like a fantasy. Sure, a restaurant in a barn or victory garden in your backyard sounds ideal, but it is not the only way to live a more farm-to-table lifestyle.
With a few tweaks, we can all shorten the distance between ourselves and our food, even if you live in the middle of a city. Whether it’s keeping an indoor herb garden, shopping at a farmers market or just eating as many whole foods as possible. Here, a few simple and affordable ways to bring the farm to your table.
Plant a windowsill herb garden
A backyard garden is understandably intimidating, but an easy option for anyone short on space, time and a green thumb is an indoor herb garden. “It’s great satisfaction to be able to use something you grew in your cooking, Emily Incledon, RD, tells SheKnows. “Bonus points for those with kids who can involve their children in the growing process, which can pique their interest in trying new foods they would normally be uninterested in trying.”
Eat whole foods
Buying fresh produce is a given when it comes to eating whole foods, but if you’re a dedicated reader of labels, you’ll find ready-made products with no preservatives, additives, or even additional ingredients. Bolthouse Farms leads the way when it comes to bottling fruits and vegetables. It grows its own carrots in California, and its 100% carrot juice has no artificial flavors, preservatives or added sugar. Short of growing and juicing your own carrots, this just might be the next best thing.
Join a food co-op
A co-op, or grocery cooperative, is a member-owned store that offers discounted prices to its members. “Co-ops offer access to local and organic produce and animal products that you likely can’t find at a big-box grocery store. Because co-op buyers work with multiple suppliers, fresh and seasonal items are consistently being delivered,” Jon Roesser, general manager of Philadelphia co-op Weavers Way, tells SheKnows. “Depending on your co-op’s location, this can mean super-steep discounts on seasonal produce when local farms have an abundance of product.”
Subscribe to CSA box
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is essentially a farm share — a farmer makes a certain number of shares available to consumers each season, and those who subscribe receive a weekly box of fresh produce. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, giving the farmer a down payment on their crop each year and bringing farm-fresh food directly to the consumer.
You don’t even need to live near a farm to do this. Most CSAs have a drop-off service, delivering food to a nearby spot — be it a store, a farmers market, or even your front door. You can find the best option for you at Local Harvest.
Preserve peak-season produce
In-season produce will always be the cheapest and most flavorful option. But storing food, whether it’s by canning, preserving, freezing or drying it, is way to enjoy it year-round.
“A dehydrator costs under $100 and pays for itself in the first harvest season,” green business consultant Shel Horowitz tells SheKnows. “Most of us already have a freezer. Refrigerator pickling takes only water and salt.” To get started, the book Putting Food By will tell you everything you need to know, though you can also find plenty of online tutorials for free.
Shop a farmer’s market late in the day
Farmers markets are an obvious way to buy directly from farmers, but depending on where you live, they don’t always translate to savings. Chef Alina Z recommends going later in the day for discounts.
“Sellers may be willing to give you a discount before they close because they don’t want to bring their produce back with them,” she tells SheKnows. Use Local Harvest to find your nearest farmer’s market.
This post was created by SheKnows for Bolthouse Farms.