Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Buy Local, Eat Fresh

Since the new year, I have been trying to come up with practical ways to get reasonably priced, local food into our home. Living in Hendersonville, we are about 20 miles north of Nashville, and while you would think that the local farmer's market could meet our needs, it does not. The Nashville Farmers Market is not a true farmers market and therefore does not have farmers selling their products. They have distributors. Not that this in itself is a terrible thing, it is just that I would like the opportunity to by direct in order to save money and to know exactly what I am buying. The Franklin Farmer's Market is several more miles away but is an actual "farmer's market". It is just not convenient to where I live. I found this website: Local Harvest through the USDA website. By searching here, i was able to find several farms in my area (i knew they were here, i just didn't have contact info). My mom and I went in together to get a CSA (community supported agriculture) share from Madison Creek Farms. We will split a weekly half bushel of their freshest organic fruits and veggies (and homemade butter and fresh eggs). I'm so excited! The food is harvested the same day you pick up and the farm itself is only 11 miles from my house. I have also found a source for grass fed organic beef in Springfield, TN. I will let you know how it is. It was a little pricey for what I usually pay for beef, but it may be worth it. I am working on finding a source for other meats, too. I have contacted a couple of farms and am waiting on responses. Now... I know some of you out there are thinking I am nuts for doing all this research for food, but there are great benefits to eating locally grown produce and meats:

  • First of all, it tastes better. Think of your homegrown veggies... It is a whole different league as far as taste.
  • It is better for you. Because the food is harvested very close to the time it is used, it is harvested at its peak and that means more nutrients (vitamins, minerals and those wonderful phytochemicals). Some organic foods can also claim better vitamin content. Local honey has also been shown to help prevent/reduce seasonal allergies. Grass fed beef has a better fat composition than the traditionally raised beef. This means that some of the fat found in grass fed beef can actually be good for you, think Omega-3 Fatty Acids (yep, the same ones found in salmon and tuna). I am not saying that you should eat beef every day, but it can be a great choice and a contributing part of a healthy diet a couple of times a week. Another thing is that committing to pick up fresh produce on a weekly basis can motivate you to eat better (more fruits and veggies and less junk).
  • Variety is the spice of life! CSAs, like the one I have chosen, force you to eat in season and to eat what is grown at the farm. This allows you exposure to foods that you may not have picked out at the local grocery store. Some CSAs also provide recipes and newsletters with their basket so you can learn how to prepare what you are given.
  • It is safer. Because it is local, you can ask the farmer exactly what his farming methods are. Buying local food creates a sense of direct responsibility.
  • Buying locally causes less impact on the environment. Because the food does not have to travel great distances while being kept at specific temperatures, less fuel is used and less packaging materials are used.
  • What really motivated me to do this is that I do not have the time (or the green thumb) required to get a large garden going this year. Especially after two failed attempts in the last two years. Although we did have a lot of tomatoes in 2006. The summer of 2007 had no shot due to the late freeze, the drought, and the excessively high temps later on in the summer. I felt terrible about that because after i had surgery last year, several people from church (Sean, Mandy, Ms. Sue, and Mr. Fuqua) planted a garden for me and I just let it die. Very sad... This will give me the opportunity to focus on some landscaping and a herb garden while still providing myself and David with fresh, delicious Tennessee produce.

I will keep you updated on how my first experience with a CSA goes! If any of you are interested in doing this, check out Local Harvest to find a farm in your area. I would contact them soon because CSA programs are often limited on the number of people that can sign up. Thanks for reading!


Jeanne said...

Maggie, your post was awesome!!! You little dietitian, you! It was really interesting to read about the CSAs and Local Harvest. My mouth is watering just thinking about that good, fresh local produce of summer in the U.S.!!!

Love you!

Melanie said...

Yippee! I've spent this snow day morning dreaming of fresh produce now :) The links you gave are great-I found lots of options for us...I had no idea so many places delivered to places so close to us. Thanks for sharing!!

Noah said...

We've been members of a CSA local to our area for over 3 years now. It is fabulous! And when I compare what I get with what I would pay in the store I always come out ahead! I hope you like your CSA.

Carolyn said...

I hopped over here from tips junkie and I'm so grateful you shared all this info! We just moved to Memphis from Las Vegas. Quite the change but I have been loving it. So many more opportunities for wonderful farm produce! My family back home thought I was crazy for starting to buy my milk straight from the cow! I also got a couple of chickens for the back yard...but they ended up being more then I could keep up with LOL. Sorry for the rambling, but I'm excited I ran into a blogger pretty close by, with great info! Thanks.