Discover the bounty of your backyard by opting for fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients grown within 100 miles of your locale. Preparing a delicious dinner using locally-grown ingredients is a healthy, eco-friendly and economic way to host a dinner party or feed your family any night of the week. Here are some tips to eat locally and seasonally.
Plant a garden
One of the easiest ways to begin your local menu is by going literally to your own backyard.
Planting a garden of fresh herbs is a cheap way to freshly flavor your food and, bonus, they taste way better then dried.
If you don’t have room for a garden, you can plant herbs in a pot and leave them on your windowsill to cut whenever needed. Parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary are versatile herbs that can be grown all season long in pots on the sill.
If you have a garden out back, plant herbs in the late spring and watch them grow into the summer. Clip and freeze them in plastic bags for fresh herbs all winter.
Join a CSA
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way for a family to always have the freshest, in season fruits and vegetables. It is also a perfect way to support your local farmers. CSA’s are especially good for urban and city areas where access to fresh fruits and vegetables are minimal.
How it works is, a family or individual, joins the CSA and pays for a set number of weeks. The farm then delivers fresh produce each week to a central location where fruits and veggies can be picked up. Sometimes even meat and dairy are included.
Typically, a family can enjoy up to 10 types of produce a week, and even up to 40 a year. CSA’s allow you to introduce your family to all different types of fresh and seasonal produce. Because the CSA bounty is based on locally-sourced foods, you will never eat out of season.
Visit the farmer’s market
Just like joining a CSA, a farmer’s market is a great way to support your local farmers and eat seasonally.
Most farmer’s markets will have cheeses, meats, poultry, fish, nuts, honey, herbs, grains, breads, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and even plants and flowers. You can most likely find everything you need to create an entire meal at the market (even wine or beer in some cases).
Shopping at the farmer’s market is economical and you are guaranteed fresh, safe food. The carbon footprint of farmer’s market food is very low and, often, it is grown or produced in an organic matter and free of pesticides or potentially toxic chemicals.
Shopping at the grocery store
If you don’t have an available CSA or farmer’s market in your area, shopping at your local grocery store can still offer fresh local produce.
However, before heading to the produce aisle, read up on the fruits and vegetables that are in season for each month so you can be sure you are buying seasonally.
Also, meats, poultry, fish and cheeses, available behind the meat counter or deli may be from around your area. Ask the butcher, cheese monger, or store manager from where products are sourced.
Shop at specialized retailers
Shopping at a butcher store, cheese shop, bakery or pastry store is a fun way to find fresh and local products.
Even better, shop owners or employees are often better-versed about their wares and can prepare foods to your specifications.
Shopping outside the supermarket may take more time, but the fresh taste and reasonable prices are usually worth it. Supporting your local farmers, food purveyors and shops is always a good thing.