Commit to buying local food
This spring make a commitment to buy local food and to eat healthy.
March 28, 2012 - Author: Katherine E. Hale, Michigan State University Extension
Local and regional food systems create additional economic opportunities for farmers and food entrepreneurs, expand healthy food access and meet growing customer demand.
How do consumers get started in eating healthy, eating seasonally and eating locally? It can be as easy or as challenging as you want. There are actually a number of ways community residents can partake of local food.
You can start by purchasing locally grown food directly from the farmer or a farmers market. You can choose to purchase a Community Supported Agriculture box of vegetables. You could also start growing your own food in a backyard garden. However, not everyone wants the responsibility of managing a garden, so you could choose to just grow herbs or a couple of tomato plants in pots on your deck. Any of these choices helps our local food system.
First, find out where the nearest farmers market or farm market is to your home – how far are you willing to drive or walk to get to the market? Are you willing to also involve yourself in the picking process and show your family where food comes from locally? Visit the Michigan Farmers Market website to find one near you. If you do your research early, you can identify where the nearest berry farm is so you know where to go when berries are in season. There are many U Pick operations in Michigan that you can call ahead of time to see what is ripe and ready for picking.
If you are willing to do some research on the web, hunt for Community Supported Agriculture farms that may be near you and purchase a share of the crop. There are a number of CSA farms across Michigan and several are located in Southeast Michigan. You may have to go pick up you weekly box of produce from a drop point or help on the farm to reduce your weekly cost.
You can also choose to eat at restaurants that feature local farm-raised foods. Many restaurants are responding to consumer demand and purchasing from distributors that buy Michigan produce. There are many food entrepreneurs who are making a local product and those foods are now being featured in many local grocery stores.
As consumers, we can make an impact on local food systems by growing our food, purchasing local foods and asking for them where we shop and where we eat. By committing early to a change in your shopping habits, we can make a difference in local food systems.