In 2020, our resolution is to eat more local food, whether that means honey, produce or beef. Here’s Part II of our guide to eating more local food all year long. You can find Part I here.
To save money on transportation, farmers and grocers want to sell produce nearby if at all possible. For shoppers, this means that produce that’s in season locally is always more likely to come from a local source. In-season produce usually tastes better too, since it’s been recently picked at its best.
Need a seasonal food guide? Good thing there’s SeasonalFoodGuide.org. Their handy website and app make it incredibly simple to find out where, when and which produce is growing. And they even have pictures!
Cut the Bull and Buy Meat Direct
At your local farmers market, you can often meet a local meat farmer. If not, ask a veggie farmer; they’re bound to know one. Locally raised, grass-fed meat has a rich flavor and powerful nutrient profile that make it worth the extra effort.
When you find a farmer, make sure to ask them a few basic questions to make sure you’re getting the good stuff:
– “Do you sell cuts or shares?”
“Cuts” means the farmer sells individual cuts, just like you would get at the grocery store. “Shares” means they sell whole, half or quarter animals, which you can then take to a butcher to have sliced how you prefer. Just make sure you have the storage space for all that meat.
– “Are your animals fed all-grass diets?”
Most cattle are fed grain at some point in their lives. It’s standard practice in the American beef industry. But, to get all the perks of local beef––taste, health benefits, eco-friendliness––you’ll want to find some that’s 100% grass fed and finished. No matter what kind of meat you’re buying, you’ll want to find out what it was fed.
– “Why did you choose the feed you use?”
In many cases, farmers just can’t feed their animals all-grass diets, often simply because where they live doesn’t have grass growing year-round. No matter what kind of feeding regimen a farmer uses, it’s worth getting the full context by asking why they went with it.
– “Can I come see your farm?”
This isn’t strictly required, but you’d be surprised how many farmers are happy to give tours. Local agriculture grows communities, and farmers are often proud to invite the locals who benefit from their hard work over for a spell.
Cast a Wide (Inter)Net
Pasture-raised and grass-fed meat is becoming easier to find outside the farmer’s market as well. Many a modern, entrepreneurial farmer has set up a Facebook page, or even a Craigslist listing, to help you find them. But, if you just can’t seem to locate local meat in your part of town, check out a few of these online resources:
Barn2Door – The Amazon of local foods. They ship all kinds of locally grown meat and produce nationwide.
eatWILD – Features an extremely thorough list of pasture-based farms and ranches in the US.
American Grassfed Association – Among other things, the AGA has a search page to help you find local meat producers.
Local Harvest – Just open the dropdown menu at the top of the page and select “Meat Processors,” then find your state and city.
Local Hive Honey is on a mission to make it easier than ever to get local honey from your neck of the woods. Honey, however, is just the beginning. Eating locally can start with your breakfast and extend to every meal, with benefits for you, your community and the planet as a whole.