Welcome to another installment of Beyond Food Fridays! Although eating local is technically food-related, it’s not a recipe so I’m going to say it counts as “beyond food.” Okay? Okay!
I’m sure you have all heard the benefits of eating locally. It’s great for the environment, the local economy, and your taste buds! But I’m not going to go into all of that too much today. I want to help you figure out how to find local farmers and seasonal produce in your neck of the woods! Now I’m no expert but I have had some experience moving to new, unknown places (such is the life of an army wife) and have had to figure out where to find good food.
If you follow me on instagram, you have probably seen me post pictures of all the beautiful produce I receive in my CSA basket. What is a CSA? CSA stands for “Community Supported Agriculture.” Basically, the consumer pays a membership fee to “join” the farm and then receives a share of the farm’s produce each week (or biweekly depending on the farm) during the growing season. This is a great way to go because you are able to get local (and often organic) produce direct from the farmer and it’s typically much cheaper than organic produce from the grocery store that comes from who even knows where. And depending on the CSA it is typically delivered to a central location (like a farmer’s market or someone’s house) where you pick it up or it is delivered directly to your door. How convenient right? The produce I receive in my CSA basket is some of the most beautiful and tasty fruits and veggies I’ve ever had. Also, since I receive what is currently growing on the farm, I’m always getting different things, some of which I’ve never heard of, which forces me to be creative in the kitchen. Since I’m a total foodie I absolutely love this!
Another great way to find good local food is to hit up your local farmers market. All farmers markets are a little different; some are a little more produce/meat heavy, while others are more craft/prepared goods heavy. So try to find one that’s got a little of everything! One of the biggest benefits (IMHO) of shopping at the farmers market is that you get to know your farmer. While browsing the different products that they are selling, you can ask questions about how the animals are raised, what they are fed, how the produce is grown, etc. All of the farmers I’ve met have been super awesome people who are always more than willing to discuss the ins and outs of what they do on their farm. Plus, is there a better way to spend a Saturday morning than shopping for local meat and produce out in the sun with a tasty cold beverage from a local vendor in your hand with the people you love? I think not! Although my husband would probably disagree and say that Saturday mornings are best spent hanging out on the couch in your underwear watching football. But to each his own right!
So let’s say you found a farmers market but there isn’t a very good selection of locally raised meat there. I’ve been there! Your best bet then is to go directly to the farm itself and buy a share of an animal. Basically, you are buying a whole or a portion of an animal (depending on the animal and how much meat you want) in bulk which saves you a ton of money because you get all the different cuts of meat for one low price. I mentioned in my Tacos de Lengua post about how we recently purchased a cow share and our 1/4 cow provided us with enough meat to fill our chest freezer about 3/4 full. That’s A LOT of meat! Yes, you will probably need to buy an additional freezer in order to store the large quantity of meat but chest freezers aren’t too pricey (you can find them new for $150-$200 and I bought mine from a friend for $75). So if you’re at all interested in buying quality, local, humanely and sustainably raised meat and you have a place to put a freezer, I highly recommend you go this route because you’ll save money in the long run, you’re supporting a local farmer, and you will have delicious meat to last for months!
So how do you find a CSA, farmers market, or local farm? That’s easy! Eat Wild and Local Harvest are two great resources. Just enter in your state or zip code and it will populate a list of local farms and farmers markets. If you’re in the Killeen/Fort Hood area here is where I buy my meat and produce:
- Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, TX
- SFC Farmers Market in downtown Austin in Republic Square Park on 4th and Guadalupe, Saturdays 9am-1pm
- Cedar Park Farmer’s Market at Lakeline Mall, Saturdays 9am-1pm
Local Farms that sell animal shares:
- Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, TX
- Richardson Farms in Rockdale, TX
- Yonder Way Farm in Fayetteville, TX
- Ross Farm in Granger, TX
We are blessed here in Central Texas to have a plethora of local farms and farmers markets so this is by no means an exhaustive list. This is just a list of the places that I personally have visited and/or purchased meat and produce from.
I hope this inspires you to support your local farmers and buy some delicious produce and meat from your farmers market or straight from the farm!
In vibrant health,