Entire truck-fulls of great food are being intentionally tossed.
Farmers are destroying their perfectly good food due to restrictive contracts. Our inefficient supply chain is causing especially dense sources of nutrient-rich calories to go to waste.
There's never better a better time to support local farms. Cutting out the middlemen is a win-win. Buying directly from farmers markets gets you fresher and more nutritious food, reduces food waste, exposes you to new foods, protects you against store shortages, and you'll get great deals.
Shop Straight From Your Local Farm
Michael Pollan briefly summarizes a few of the reasons to eat and shop locally.
Buying directly from your local community not only feels good, but you get the best quality money can buy:
- In season
- Less contamination
- Greater variety
Great Deals All Around
Farmers are in the midst of fire-selling what otherwise will get discarded.
Anything you buy off them benefits both parties.
Shopping with local farmers keeps the local economy stimulated, and more of it goes back into your area. Otherwise it's funneled off into corporate headquarters states or countries away.
You're creating jobs. The people growing your food also get a far larger cut of money than when it you buy through supermarkets.
Unique Properties of Foods
Local food has unique benefits that the stuff you get shipped from other countries doesn't.
For example, only honey from your area can relieve your allergy symptoms.
Slight amounts of dirt on local food also strengthens your gut microbiome with the bacteria naturally present in your environment.
Once you try local food, you won't want to go back.
Going straight to the source bypasses the problem of old supermarkets food. Farmers pick produce near peak ripeness, instead of harvesting early. What does this means for you?
- Delicious and full of flavor
- More nutrients
Foods consumed in season are fresher, tastier, and more nutritious. But that's not all.
Save the Environment
Your dollars cast a vote for the environment.
Inefficient supply chain or not, you can make a difference. Shopping locally in these times benefits the environment:
- Less fossil fuel from transporting from your local farm (instead of across the world).
- Less waste of food that farmers will otherwise discard.
- Less soil damage since you're supporting small farmers who likely don't monocrop.
Try New Foods
Farmers carry some crazy options. Stuff you won't find in Whole Foods.
You have the opportunity to expand your palette.
I don't know where they sell the stuff. I've come across plants, root, herbs, and spices of all shapes, sizes, and colors that the farmer's market workers had to explain. Their guidance helped me sauté unique and memorable concoctions.
See what they're carrying. You may just find your new favorite fruit, vegetable, nut, or meat.
Keep Your Fridge Stocked When Grocery Stores Run Out
Grocery stores are hurting.
I've waited half an hour just to get in. Sometimes I leave empty-handed. Not a pleasurable experience.
You could go to another store, and spend more time in line. What a time waste.
You can avoid this altogether.
How to Buy in Bulk and Save the Day
Farmers deal in bulk. They don't have the resources to sell items individually. Imagine the workload of selling heads of broccoli to hundreds or thousands of different consumers one by one.
How do you buy in bulk without having the produce go bad in your fridge?
You have two options:
1A. Stockpiling Months of Food in a Deep Freezer
That's where a deep (also known as chest) freezer comes in handy.
Deep freezer vary in shape and size, but they get colder than your typical freezer which makes them better at long-term preservation.
They also add additional storage because your freezer alone likely won't hold enough.
You can find them in person or online:
I've seen killer deals on Craigslist.
My favorite part of previously owning one?
It got cold enough to sterilize fish. My normal cut of salmon just became sushi-grade (I'd verify that your deep freezer gets cold enough before trying yourself).
This may not work if you live in a tiny New York City apartment like I do. That's where option two comes in.
1B. Farm Sharing
Call up your buddies and let them know your plan.
You can buy in bulk and then divy it all up between your small group. That way you all can take advantage of the great deals without owning a space-hogging deep freezer.
I did this with a cow previously. I got a group together and we each purchased and divvied up a healthy grass-finished, pastured cow eight ways.
Once you've figured out storage, next comes the fun part.
2. Finding a Farm
Great, you know where you'll put the stuff. Now what?
Three places you can find farms:
- Craigslist search. It sounds strange, but that's how I got 1/8th of a grass-finished cow (a story for another time).
- Farms That Are Delivering. I recently stumbled upon this gem. You select a food type, and they show you local farms matching your preferences.
- Manual directory search. Back in the pre-COVID era, I had EatWild bookmarked. EatWild is a curated list of the finest farms in your area. If you're looking for high-quality, you'll find it here.
You'll have to call up the farmer to see what they have in stock. Yeah, how old school, but talking to the food producer is part of the experience. You might learn a thing or two.
Online Delivery Service
Not into talking? Maybe chatting with a farmer is too much, but you still want quality food.
ButcherBox, a subscription meat delivery service, recently stopped taking orders.
Another equally (if not higher) quality option, you can still count on U.S. Wellness Meats. I've heard nothing but great things about them.
Their name is a slight misnomer. They specialize in meats but also carry some other snacks, pet food, condiments, and a select few types of produce.
If you can't go local, and your grocery stores sell out of the good stuff, U.S. Wellness Meats has you covered.
It's Not All Bad
Support your local economy.
You get the highest quality food, for a bargain. Avoid the large crowds, out of stock products, and try something new.
Now's the best time to meet your farmers. Oklahoma residents have already started:
“You know who you’re buying from, you can ask them questions about how they raised the cattle, how the fed the cattle. Is this a new normal? I think there is an opportunity there.Michael Kelsey
Fresh, local food looks, feels, and tastes different. What are you waiting for? Don't take my word, discover this yourself.