This is the first in a series of monthly guest blog posts by Josie & Shawn from Truffula Seed Produce. Enjoy! -Liza
When Liza asked me to write a monthly guest blog entry, I wasn’t sure what to write about. Shawn and I have our own blog where we talk about fun happenings on and off the farm and I don’t want to post the same stuff here (B-O-R-I-N-G). I also don’t want focus on the same topics as Liza: restaurants, cooking at home, food in the media, etc. So what is left?
Well, I’m 27, a vegetarian, run a small farm with my boyfriend and I obsess about food. I read a lot of the books out there on what to eat, and spend a lot of time researching where to get the best food. And by “best” I mean the most ethically raised/grown/produced, the healthiest, and (of course) the most delicious.
|Josie & Shawn – Downtown Westminster Farmers’ Market|
While we grow a lot of the food we eat on our own farm, we don’t grow everything and we are careful about where we buy most of our other food. We like to buy from other farmers, co-ops, and as many local sources as possible – but it can be so complicated!
Is what you are buying what it says it is?
How close does it have to be to be “local”?
What exactly do they mean by “farm fresh”?
And is the organic really worth it?
How about free range/cage-free/pastured/grass-fed, is that worth it?
I could probably write a whole blog entry of questions like these. Once you get started asking the questions, you only end up with more questions and it feels like you can never do enough. So why try?
Here’s why: Every time you buy something local, something organic, something free-range, something home grown, you are voting for a better food system. Every purchase you make (be it food, clothing, etc) says, “I want more of this to be available in the future,” even the small things. The more you can support alternatives, the more alternatives will be available. And let’s not forget, foodies are foodies because finding new and delicious food is super fun and rewarding.
|Taking care of the beehive on the farm|
So where to start…how about one of my favorite places: the farmers’ market! Farmers’ markets are popping up all over the country. In small towns, big cities, and along roadsides. There are a lot of different ways to find markets near you – websites like www.localharvest.org, or www.realtimefarms.com, or just Google “[insert city] farmers’ market.” Small or large, markets can be so much fun and they are a great place for anyone (especially kids) to learn about food. You can see what is in season in your area, meet the farmers (my favorite part), and really enjoy your grocery shopping!
A few things to remember when locating and shopping at a farmers’ market:
- Check to see if your market is “producer-only.”
- “Producer-only “ markets are those that only allow farmers to sell what they produce. Really, this just means that the food has to be local. If the market is NOT producer-only, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go, you just want to make sure you ask lots of questions.
- Ask questions! When you make your first trip to the market, meet the farmers and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Think about what you are looking for and find out which farmers provide that.
- Where is their farm and how big is it?
- Do they spray pesticides or herbicides?
- Do they have any certifications, such as Naturally Grown or Organic?
- Do they grow all of their own produce? If not, where does the additional produce come from?
- Are their animals pastured?
- What are the animals fed?
Unless they are swamped with customers, most farmers should be very open to answering these questions!
Being a farmer, I prefer to be a part of producer-only markets. They keep the pricing fair and really support the farmers in your area. That being said, I am a huge supporter of any farmers’ market, just be aware that most farmers who buy wholesale do so to supplement their own crops. If you are unsure, just ask!
I could go on and on, but I will save it for another month. If you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading and I hope you feel excited about the idea of local food. Maybe you already shop at a farmers’ market, if so I would love to hear your feedback! If you haven’t been to one, maybe you can try one this month – let me know how it goes!
|One of the side gardens|