The Farm-to-Table movement is growing across the country, allowing local residents to eat healthy, delicious foods grown in their own areas. With a little planning, you can join the movement and help support your local farmers while tasting the bounty your hometown region has to offer.
Visit Farmer’s Markets
The easiest way to begin eating farm to table is to find your local farmer’s markets. In some communities, the town government organizes farmer’s markets where local producers set up stalls and sell their goods. Your shopping might be limited to one day a week when this happens.
You can also look for a commercial farmer’s market that’s open all week, similar to a grocery store. In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, these markets also sell meats, fish and poultry, and healthy packaged and convenience items from out of the area.
Join a CSA
Join a Community Supported Agriculture group to get first shot at local produce and lower prices. With a CSA, you pay a fee in advance to help local producers fund their operations. You then get fresh food as it’s harvested. By cutting out the middleman, you pay a few hundred dollars for much more than that amount in food, compared to what you’d pay for the same amount at the grocery store.
Find F-2-T Restaurant
Look for restaurants in your areas that source local produce and proteins and check out their menus. You’ll not only support local farmers, but also meet like-minded people and pick up ideas for ingredients to add to your pantry and dishes you can start making at home.
Get Cookin’ with Local Foods
Plan a few seasonal menus based on your area’s harvests. Write a list of side dishes you can pair with a variety of proteins throughout the year. Thanks to sites like YouTube, you can find step-by-step demonstrations for making almost any dish online.
Just type in the name of an ingredient or a dish and you’ll likely find multiple recipes and demonstration videos. For more options, visit sites like FoodTV.com to find scads of recipes and photos from your favorite celebrity chefs. And don’t forget to surf the Flatout blog for many great recipe ideas.
Green Your Thumb
You don’t need a large backyard, lots of equipment and years of experience to grow at least some of your own food. You can start with a small container garden or try your hand at growing just a few of your favorite veggies in your backyard.
Go online and research your USDA Zone to find out what fruits and vegetables will grow best in your area and when to plant. Ask for help at your local farmer’s market or send an email to your friends asking who gardens – you’ll get lots of helpful tips.
Include the Kids
Children are more likely to want to eat healthy if they are part of the process of buying the family food, planning menus and cooking meals. Plan a field trip to a local farm, dairy or orchard and let kids meet the people who grow their food. Take them to the farmer’s market or grocery store for short trips and teach them how to shop.
Plan a meal based around local ingredients and teach your young Emeril or Rachel Ray how to make the dishes.
Start a Dining Group
Blast email your friends to find out who cooks, likes entertaining, and is interested in starting a progressive Farm to Table dining group. It might be just a few times per year or a monthly get-together to try new foods, sample interesting wines and enjoy great conversation.