8 Tips to Help You Eat Locally

By , Michelle Buffardi, Food Network’s Healthy Eats
Eating local foods is healthy for you, for the environment and for your community. By choosing locally-sourced goods, you’ll not only support farmers, bakers and artisans in your community, but you’ll also be adding the freshest-tasting foods available to your diet. Another (often unrealized) benefit to going local is the relationships you’ll form within your community — with other local shoppers at the farmer’s markets, with those who grow and produce your food and with local foods advocates like yourself.

Local food is getting a lot of buzz lately.  It can be overwhelming to weed through all the press to find the good stuff you need to know, so we’ve come up with a list of tips to help you get started. And getting started might not be too difficult — you probably already know of a few of these or have adopted some into your lifestyle. 

1. Learn what’s in season. If it can’t be grown in your area in the current season, then you can be sure what you’re buying isn’t local. (Think mangoes in Vermont in December . . . ) Knowing what’s available in your area and when its’ at its prime will help you plan grocery lists and menus, so in no time you’ll be searching markets and farm stands for zucchini in July and for butternut squash in late-September. Bonus: in-season produce is often less expensive than out of season fare.  Local Harvest offers a map of the US that will help you narrow down which produce is available in your state and where you can buy it – check it out.

2. Plant a garden. Or even a few plants! Herbs are easy to grow on windowsills, and pots of tomato plants will thrive on porches if you’re not ready to dig a plot in your yard. If you lack the space, are a new gardener or just love company, find (or start!) a community garden where you can have your own plot or garden with others to grow food for your community.

3. Buy local produce. It’s one statement, but the idea can be acted out in many ways. Locate the farm stands in your neighborhood: local farmers large and small are selling their produce at literal stands where you can buy whatever is in season: tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini and squash. You can also shop at larger farmer’s markets, where multiple farmers and artisans will be selling their goods. To find a farmer’s market near you visit LocalHarvest.com or the USDA Web site.

Click here for more eating local tips from Food Network.

More from Food Network:How do you eat local? What community organizations and tools do you rely on?

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We need to consume what our country produce. Thank you. Report
good tips
We have a locally owned gourmet grocery store in walking distance. The store has committed to buying their produce from local farmers whenever possible, so I tend to stock up when I can on whatever is in season. Report
Farmer's markets are so much fun. Seeing all the fruits, vegetables and beautiful blooming plants is such a delight. Also, you're getting better tasting produce, and less pesticides. Report
Sooooooo happy to see this post! For those on a very restrictive budget, make sure you look into local farmers' markets that accept SNAP/food stamps - there are more and more of them every year! Report
good! Report
Great. Report
I have always had some sort of garden and also I like to try to buy or get from relatives other produce (I used to do this more in the past as as I had relatives that are farmers but due to a will dispute they no longer have anything to do with my Mom's side of the family). Report
In Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky, there is a service that will deliver organic and local produce to your home or office; like what LEB0401 described. I use them for a delivery every two weeks. It's wonderful and affordable. Report
Yay! Through the websites you provided I found a co-op that drops off customized produce boxes in the metro area. Just so happens that one of the drop offs is at the store across the street. Good prices too! Thanks :) Report
Growing my own food organically has certainly stretched my grocery budget and it's nice to know exactly what I'm eating. Report
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