How To Find Local Food and Goods!

Today I went to the farmers market! Here are my tips to help you find local food and goods!

Me leaving for the market with my trusty tote bags!

One of my biggest goals recently has been to eat locally produced foods and goods and eat seasonally.

This means I find food and other goods from people that produce it in my state or my region when possible, and only buy produce when it’s available for harvest in my region.

Food begins to spoil as soon as it’s harvested. Most farmers harvest the day of the market or the day before, so shopping local is the best way to ensure you have nutrient dense fresh foods. 

Next to fresh, buying foods that are frozen right after harvest is the best way to preserve nutrients. 

Shopping local also helps us strengthen our local food system and economy, helping small businesses and to build our community! 

How To Find Local Food and Goods:

Make a Plan

Make a seasonal food plan for where you live! Map out which local foods you can get and when throughout the whole year.

Having a seasonal plan, like knowing asparagus peaks in spring, helps you know when it will be most available and when you will need to set aside extra time for canning or freezing etc.

For example during the peak of strawberry season soon I will plan to freeze some strawberries for future smoothies, make jam and jelly, and dehydrate some for oatmeal, so I can enjoy them all year long.

Usually when things are in season you can get them at a great deal and save a lot of money!

Check out U-Pick Farms

A U-Pick farm is a farm where you go out and pick the produce yourself, usually filling up large baskets, and then you pay a set per pound price or per basket price for what you pick.

It’s a great way to get pounds of organic produce at a fraction of the cost you’d spend at the grocery store or market. 

My food plan this year involves visiting several U-pick farms to gather strawberries, blueberries, and apples to preserve for the year!

There isn’t anything more fresh than picking it yourself from the plant that morning and preserving it or eating it that evening! 

Visit Farmers Markets

A farmers market is when several different farmers and vendors gather together to sell their goods at the same time. They are usually once or twice a week. 

A few tips for visiting a farmers market: 

  • Walk the whole market first before you decide what to buy. Compare vendor prices and growing methods to pick the best option.
  • Bring cash, some vendors only take cash, some will have a card reader. Some vendors can accept food assistance.
  • Bring a little cart on wheels, wagon, or big tote bags to carry the stuff you buy.
  • Wear a sunhat and sunscreen and bring water, they are outside mostly and it can get hot!
  • Go early for the best selection, vendors will often leave early after they’ve sold out. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask farmers how they grow their produce, a lot of farmers grow organically or beyond organic and don’t bother to get certified organic. Some vendors don’t grow their own stuff at all or use chemicals, it’s okay to ask where it came from and how it was grown.
Today’s goodies from the market, all local, including some fudge and donuts for a treat!!

Join a CSA

A CSA is when you give a farmer money at the beginning of the season, in exchange for a “share” of the harvest later in the year.

Usually CSA’s will have a once a week pickup option, or the option to spend your money at their farmstand. Some pre-select what you get each week, and some let you pick out things you like.

There are many different models for payment and items you can buy a CSA share for. From flower shares, salad shares, and year round CSA’s so you can eat fresh spinach in the winter!

Joining a CSA helps farmers get money upfront in the season during the expensive planting season and guarantees you a share of the harvest later in the year!

Local Grocery Stores

Check out small, local, grocery stores and ask them where they get their produce and products, a lot of smaller grocery stores will carry local brands.

This is important because it is very hard for a smaller brand to get a spot in a bigger chain grocery store, so supporting these small businesses helps everyone! 

Direct Buy from Farmer

Some farms do direct sales, you can just order directly from the farm and arrange your delivery or pickup time. I think this is common with meat a lot.

Some farms sell online and ship right to your door, like New Dawn Farms Garlic Boxes! Be sure to follow the farms and farmers you like on social media and sign up for their newsletters so you don’t miss out on great deals!

Don’t forget about your local artists and artisans!

Part of eating local for me is also extending those values to other things I buy, so I’ve been searching for local artisans to buy clothing, art, and personal care products like soap.

These artisan vendors often have booths at farmers markets or local fairs, and might be in local grocery stores too. 

Barter with your neighbors!

Maybe they have a well established rhubarb patch they could never use up all by themselves and you grew too many potatoes?

Get to know your neighbors and trade your extra bounty! A lot of people keep backyard chickens and are happy to trade some extra eggs for some of your veggies. 

Social Media and Web

Check your local Facebook groups, and other social media sites like Nextdoor, Farmish, and FarmFresh 24/7, for local and small farmers near you selling goods. 

These sites are like craigslist but for small farms and backyard gardeners, you can post something as small as one dozen eggs or one transplant for sale!

The website Local Harvest is also a great place to search for local food. In Michigan you can also check out Taste the Local Difference

What if I can’t find it local?

If you can’t find it local, try to buy it from an ethical organic sustainable brand, check out Thrive Market for deals on healthy organic groceries and home products.

Get 30% off your purchase & a $60 FREE gift when you join Thrive Market!

Drop your tips for finding local food below in the comments or email me on the Contact page!

Thanks for reading! Happy Shopping! -Jess

P.S. I made an asparagus gouda cheese omelette today with my farmers market eggs and asparagus! I’ll share the recipe later this week! Here is a sneak peak!

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2 Comments

  1. Thank you for posting so many tips for us as we pursue some fresh produce close to home.
    Going to a U-pick strawberry site sounds like a fine idea! Your omelette looks delicious. Yum!

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