Getting fresh produce out of your own backyard is just about as local as you can get. However, there are some people who can’t garden for various reasons, but still want to reduce the amount of trash caused by buying produce in the plastic bags from the grocery store. May I suggest you find a local farmer’s market? Almost every major city has at least one, and they are worth the effort!
Shopping at a farmer’s market has many benefits.
You get to know the farmer who actually grew your food. You can find out how it was grown, what chemicals if any were used, and when the food was harvested. Many of them won’t mind you asking a lot of questions, and they are usually very happy to explain the food they are trying to sell. You might come across one or two who don’t like the questions, but they are generally the exception and not the rule. You can also bring your own bags to the market and not worry about the plastic bags and whether or not you will succomb to their “magnetic try me” power.
You can get the freshest produce available. They don’t cover their produce in preservative wax or shellac to extend the shelf life, so the produce you see is picked either the day before, or the morning of the market opening.
You can save money by bargaining with the farmer.
Sometimes, they will give you a price discount on an item if you take the whole lot, or if it’s later in the day. I have done this, and gotten a dozen ears of fresh sweet corn for $1.00 simply because he didn’t want to take any back with him. But, ya gotta ask! Like my mother always said, “You never know the answer until you ask the question”.
Trying a new to you veggie is easier, as you can buy it in smaller quantities.
And many times the person running the stand will have ideas or recipes on how to prepare it. I learned how to use kohlrabi one year at the farmer’s market and as a result, we plant it in our own garden yearly now.
Another fun adventure is also a produce auction. I had a friend who introduced me to our local produce auction, and I was hooked! You can buy lots of food for little price, all by local farmers. Most have a rule that you have to have grown the produce within 100 miles of the auction. You can find a local produce auction by clicking here. The only thing I recommend is that you go early, and familiarize yourself with the local auction site’s rules. There is no more frustrating thing than to realize the $15 you spent on apples was really, in fact, $150. Trust me on this one, mmmmkay?