As a parent, you put a lot of thought into what to feed your family. Weekly budgeting, meal planning and shopping — it all takes time and effort. Yet you take these steps to keep your family healthy.
Nevertheless, you can do more to make your diet nutritious and enriching. Many choose to become locavores, people who source food from local sources — anything less than 100 miles away. Locavores experience a slew of benefits.
For one, a purchase from a nearby farm travels less distance than grocery store goods. Therefore, the process uses less fuel and less carbon enters the atmosphere.
As a locavore, you’ll also experience added health benefits. Fresh produce loses 30% of its nutrients within three days of harvest. Spinach, for example, loses 90% within the first 24 hours. When you buy local, goods are fresher than those at big box stores.
Now that you’re ready to make the switch, discover how to turn your family into locavores.
A straightforward way to find local fare is to search on the internet. Seek out farmers who sell their harvests. You can also look for nearby restaurants that source ingredients from local providers.
Don’t limit yourself to food. You can also find clothes, beauty products, office supplies and other useful items made in your hometown. If you can’t find anything, post a question on a local forum and wait for people to reach out. Many people have home-based businesses they’re dying to talk about.
Hit the Farmer’s Market
You can always find local fare at the farmer’s market. Locavores who shop at markets prove community-based business matters. When you support a local seller, you boost the city’s economy.
With an increase in demand for local food, you’ll begin to see more of it. Restaurants might add new local-inspired options. Boutiques might source items from nearby artists. This change will make it easier to maintain a locavore lifestyle — a win-win for you and the community.
Sign Up for a Co-Op
Once you’re fully on board with the locavore lifestyle, join a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. You pay an upfront subscription fee in exchange for the regular delivery of locally-grown crops. Subscribers gain access to a range of products from a single farm or group. Each shipment is sure to inspire your weekly menu.
Another option is a co-op, a system where farmers pool resources and provide goods to individual members. To join, you pay a membership fee. In exchange, you receive well-sourced groceries. Some co-ops fill shelves with food from nearby farms. Others grow and harvest the food themselves with the help of volunteers. You may be asked to work in the field picking strawberries. You could also help members shopping in the store.
Start a Garden
You can’t get more local than a garden in your backyard. Step out the door into your personal supply of fresh fruits and veggies. Starting a garden might seem daunting, but it’s a simple process. Find a sunny spot and ensure the soil is loamy enough to support growth. A space of 160 square feet — about the size of a shed — is enough to grow food for a family of four.
Start with plants that are easy to grow and great additions to mealtime. Include options like:
- Green Beans
A garden is an activity the whole family can participate in. Teach your kids how to dig into the soil and plant seeds. Keep an eye out for symptoms of disease, such as leaf and stem rust, a golden residue that tends to seek out corn. You can even let Fido wander around the jungle as the whole family picks fresh goodies.
Preserve Crops Post-Harvest
Gardens don’t yield much in the cold months, but you can still enjoy your harvest year-round. Some foods stay fresh for months, as long as you know how to store them. For instance, sweet potatoes, squash and apples have long shelf lives. With the right preservation techniques, you can eat like a locavore until spring comes.
Preservation won’t keep fresh fruits and veggies in their original form. The result, however, is more nutritious than the canned variety at the grocers. For example, transform leftover tomatoes into salsa, spaghetti sauce or juice. Blend once-fresh peaches or raspberries into jams. You can also pickle cucumbers into a salty treat. Running out of recipes? Simply can your leftovers, a preservation method that requires a pressure cooker and glass jars.
Love Local and Become a Locavore
Eating local might take a bit of research on your part. However, the work will pale in comparison to the payoff. You and your family will get to eat fresh, tasty and nutritious food year-round. Local businesses will flourish as you buy products. Plus, you can learn the benefits of growing your own garden.
Start your quest to become a locavore today, and see how great you feel tomorrow.