Eat by the season, eat local, eat healthy

We all know that sometimes it is really hard to eat healthy and can be even harder to eat all your fruits and veggies in a day, and then eat them locally.  However, it can be done! And it feels so healthy! Of course, I won’t lie and say I don’t like McDonald’s french fries, Burger King burger or Dairy Queen Ice Cream. I also like going to the grocery store and sometimes you can only find what you are looking for there. However, we have been going to smaller stores and local markets lately to try and find alternatives to the over processed, over picked and aged produce.

There is an article that I found that gives advice on how to eat local. Why eat local? There are many perks and good sides to eating local- the food is fresher- most produce we get in the grocery store has already been picked for a week.  Also, by eating local you have control of choosing which farm you get your produce from and how they handle their farm (i.e. what pesticides if any they use), and you are giving a local farmer support which we all know can be a tough occupation.  In some sense big farms are necessary to feed the mass populations if you buy into that, but there is nothing like vegetables and fruit straight of the vine or local honey, or local farm made cheeses.  Many local farms also sell eggs and meat.

(The doggies at the Farmers Market)

Some farms sell to individuals on a daily basis, some have pick-your-own where you can go and hand pick what you would like, some farms are at farmers markets and others are community supported agriculture farms. Community Supported Agriculture farms are farms that offer a share of their crop for a season or yearly paid contract.  In exchange for a certain amount of money per week the CSA farms provide the share holder with some veggies and/or fruit, possibly herbs, eggs, meat and more varying by each farm.

(Above the doggies at the Farmers Market)

There are a few good websites recommended to provide this information:

Pickyourown.org   http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states

This website provides information about growing your own food, and about preserving food.  It provides lists by state and by zip code of local pick-your-own farms and popular food stands and produce stores that are of course of the main stream.  This site has local food calendars. I love this site for finding place to go and pick berries in the spring and summer, its fun and inexpensive. The fruit is so fresh and afterwards you can use many recipes.

Local Harvest    http://www.localharvest.org/

LocalHarvest.org is another great website that provides information about doing things green and local. It has listings of local farms that you can get to know and buy produce from. The thing I like best about this site is its online store, with lots of teas, soaps, honeys, herbal cures, farming and growing supplies, cheeses and meats and much more on it.  While not everything you might buy from there would be local you know that it is coming from an independent farm where everything is made carefully with the freshest ingredients in mind. Some things on the store can only be bought locally and you can always get into hunting down the product you see and want from somewhere within state.

About.com’s Local Food Page     http://localfoods.about.com/

This site has lots of easy to understand info about grown local, many good recipes and full lists of food calendars.

The best advice I have heard so far about going green and going local is go slow, take it easy. Try 1 meal a week made from local produce, then later on try two or three, or a whole day at a time. Slowly increase your habit to make an easier more understanding transition.   There are some good movies about growing and shopping local, including “Ingredients” directed by Robert Bates.

We have started our own garden, which is a great resource. It is easy to grow many herbs in a window sill that gets enough sun light. We are growing many plants.  We have been using our basil for dishes and soups and our peppermint and sweet mint for teas and fruit salad.  We use our lavender and sage to scent the house.  They all smell wonderful and we cannot wait for the little plants to continue to grow! The plants have made the house smell wonderful. We have made friends with some of the local farmers at farmers markets and have bought some of our plants from them- including Thai and Chinese ginger, Lemongrass. Cannot wait to use them for recipes and smell them around the house. We are now growing several plants.

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