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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