Let’s have another brainstorming session! On Friday, we discussed the importance of purchasing local food. Now it is time to figure out how to find it. It takes a bit more work because you might not find it all in one place (the exception being a Farmer’s Market). In addition, you have to do a little digging to find resources, because some farmers don’t advertise or are off the beaten track.
Here are some methods you can use to find local food in your area.
Search LocalHarvest Database
The LocalHarvest listings include many options for local food: grocery stores (like Localvore in Sutherlin, Oregon), restaurants, CSAs (community supported agriculture), farmer’s markets, U-Pick farms, farm stands, co-ops, and more… You can search by zip code or city and state to find out what venues have voluntarily added themselves to the database. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you’ll be able to contact the various vendors for more details about their hours, offerings, prices, and growing practices.
I recommend signing up for the LocalHarvest newsletter. Then you’ll be informed of new listings automatically in your state.
Weston A. Price Foundation Local Chapter
The local chapters of the Weston A. Price Foundation will “help you find locally-grown organic and biodynamic vegetables, fruits and grains; and milk products, butter, eggs, chicken and meat from pasture-fed animals.” Find your local chapter here.
Newspaper, Free Shopper, Free-Cycle, or Craig’s List
Search these resources for notices of low-cost or free abundances of fruits, nuts or garden veggies. So many people just can’t keep up with what their land produces that they’re looking for others to come and glean. Here are the links to Free-Cycle and Craig’s List. You’ll have to track down the newspaper and/or free shopper classifieds in your area.
Natural Food Warehouses, Co-ops & Buying Clubs
Natural food warehouses may offer local, same-state, or regional food. In my area, there are three natural food warehouses: Azure Standard, United Natural Foods, and Hummingbird Wholesale. To be able to purchase from these companies, you must be part of a co-op group or buying club that places a minimum $ order each time. Contact the company directly to request a catalog and/or to find out who to contact locally about becoming a part of the group. Hummingbird Wholesale accepts walk-in customers at their location in Eugene, Oregon on certain days.
I coordinate a co-op group in my area (Douglas County, Oregon) for Hummingbird Wholesale out of Eugene, Oregon. We order every other month and I make deliveries to central locations in Roseburg, Oregon and Sutherlin, Oregon. Please contact me for more information about that group. But… before contacting me, please browse their online catalog to see if their offerings are a good match for you or not. Taking this step beforehand will save all of us some time! Thanks.
You can find more natural food warehouses through the national Co-op Directory.
Ordering from these companies doesn’t guarantee getting local food. Their food offerings may be transported a few miles or many thousands of miles. Still, I include this option because it is possible to get local, same-state, or regional food from these warehouses.
Grow Your Own or Trade With Friends
Even though this option is so common sense, I must include it. You can grow your own local food! Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow microgreens or sprouts; or lettuce in hanging baskets or bowls on the patio; or tomato plants in a pot on your porch; or… I do some of these things until I have a garden.
Your friends may have garden excess to sell, or to trade for a food or service that you can provide.
A great way to find information about local food offerings is to ask around. The people who know are the people who are involved in the local food movement themselves. One likely place to find these people is at the health food store. Sure, they like to sell retail, but the nice folks are usually 100% behind the philosophy of local food, so they’re almost always glad to pass on information about who is growing what or what co-ops are available. They may have a bulletin board set up to host information about local food. You can also ask vendors at the Farmer’s Market. Perhaps someone has a friend who doesn’t make it to the market but has great tomatoes…
What you’re looking for by asking questions of knowledgeable people are recommendations for informal markets, Farmers’ Markets, grocery stores featuring local food, farmers, U-Pick farms, farm stands, the lady down the road from your friend who has lots of eggs, raw dairy farms, people with orchards who are looking for others to come and glean, etc.
I would love to add to this list – I’m sure you’ve got some great ideas or resources to contribute! Please add them in the comments. We can all help each other this way – and help our local food providers succeed!