In the United States we’re becoming increasingly aware of how important our food sources are, beyond just choosing organic options from the produce isle at the grocery store.
In fact, what I’ve learned over the past few years is that while organic stuff is good, you can eat just as healthfully by understanding where your food comes from, and also how it’s grown—even if it doesn’t hold the coveted USDA organic label.
So, in case you didn’t know, it’s expensive to be Certified Organic by the USDA. Small-scale farmers often don’t have the ability to pay for the process, even if they are farming organically.
Get to know your local farmers by visiting their farms and their stands at your community farmers’ markets! They’ll happily tell you about their practices, what sorts of pesticides they do or don’t use, and many farms offer tours, too.
“Eating local” means you not only know where your food comes from, but that also you’re helping to keep your community sustainable. I love this “farm to table” concept, and it’s easy to take advantage by visiting that farmers’ market in your community, using local grocery businesses like Hometown Harvest and Common Market, choosing restaurants that support local growers, or by participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs.
Wondering what a CSA program is?
Think of a CSA program as buying a seasonal share of a farmer’s produce, meats, dairy, or whatever the yield is. You pay money up front, and then over the course of about 8-9 months you get a box of whatever happens to be in season on a weekly basis. It gives the farmers a more steady income stream to depend on and a guarantee that their harvest has buyers.
Plus, it makes meal planning fun for us! (Think Chopped!, and Ted Allen saying, “Open your baskets!”)
In some cases, several small-scale farmers will come together to create a CSA program so that the participants have a lot of different things to choose from. One that I used to participate in even offered fresh cut flowers or loaves of bread as part of the weekly box. How fun is that?
At the very least, as a country we’re becoming smarter about what’s going on with our food. Community leaders in the blog world are modern activists forging the way for all classes—not just wealthy folks—to gain access to foods that are meant to help us thrive, despite the setbacks related to geography, money, and a host of other things.
You are what you eat. Take the time to educate yourself, and move one step at a time.
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