Local food systems are important to different people for different reasons.
For some, it’s a personal matter of taste or health. Fresher food tastes better and is more nutritious, and knowing where your food comes from means you can decide what you’re eating. For others, it’s an economic matter. Doing business with our neighbors helps build the local economy. For some, it’s a political act. We should control our food supply and have the final say in what we eat — these things shouldn’t be in the hands of global conglomerates or governments.
Regardless of the reasons, many think that establishing a local food system is a worthy idea.
But doing this takes all of us! Fortunately, there are many ways to get involved. Here are just a few.
- Grow some food.
It’s not as hard as you think. If you don’t feel inclined, start small with an indoor planter of herbs or sprouts or microgreens. Lettuce is also an easy thing to start with.
- Go to a farmers market.
- Join a CSA.
Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a way for people to support local growers by buying a “subscription” for weekly produce baskets. You can often find out about these at local farmers markets, and Local Harvest has listings as well.
- Trade with others.
I have a lot of tomatoes, and you have extra zucchinis (or time to babysit my kids) — let’s trade!
- Support local businesses, including restaurants (especially ones that use locally sourced food).
When I first moved to the rural part of the country I now live in, I had no intention of getting involved in local food systems, much less growing my own food. But then reality hit — I love fresh food and being 50 miles from a market meant that was challenging. This led me to develop some new skills. Now I can’t imagine not doing this, and I’ve been gratified at how easy and satisfying it is.
Please share your examples and tutorials for building local food systems below. It takes a village!