Sourcing Food Locally, Even in the Smallest Communities

Sourcing food locally is the new “it” movement for everyone from gourmet chefs to stay at home moms. Everywhere you turn there are slogans and catch phrases for joining this new revolution to better food, such as “100 mile diet”, “Buy Close By”, and “food revolution”, not to mention the farmer’s markets or farm stands everywhere you turn.

But what are the advantages of buying local?

Firstly there is the obvious, such as knowing your grower and how he/she grows their produce/meat/eggs, but there is also the less obvious reason of helping to curb the pollution caused by long haul refrigerated trucking of food stuffs from hundreds or even thousands of miles away.

There is also the advantage of helping to keep jobs in local communities safe as the more a farmer can sell of his/her crop or livestock, the more he/she may need to hire local jobseekers to help out.

All Photos by Elizabeth Nyland

So Where Do You Find the Markets?

Sometimes, when living in a smaller community, finding good sources of local food can be difficult, but only if you don’t know where to look.

Most provinces in Canada have a website dedicated to the passing of information on where to locate a farmers market in your area, but these are mostly the bigger markets. In my area, known as Southern Vancouver Island, including Victoria and the Cowichan Valley, we have what are known as pocket markets. These are very small, maybe one or two stands, that pop up in various locations (not always year round) around cities and villages.

Pocket markets offer what’s fresh that day and then they close up shop. Most are open one day a week and offer produce from more than one farm at a time, to offer variety, but also to keep the costs lower for the farmers.

Here are some links to various websites offering lists of farmers’ markets near you:

USA

USDA Farmer’s Market Search
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service: Local Food Directories
Local Harvest

CANADA

British Columbia: http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/
Alberta: http://www.albertamarkets.com/
Manitoba: http://www.manitobafarmersmarkets.ca/
Saskatchewan: http://www.saskfarmersmarket.com/
Ontario: http://www.farmersmarketsontario.com/
Quebec: http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/tourist-services-directory/public-market/
Nova Scotia: http://www.farmersmarketsnovascotia.ca/
Pocket Markets Southern Vancouver Island: http://www.foodroots.ca/

Amy over at Simple Organic recently shared about Getting the Most Out of the Farmer’s Market. You’ll want to apply her tips this season as you shop local!

The Drive-By

Another option for sourcing local food is the farm stands located right on the farms themselves. Driving down quiet country roads, it’s hard not to pass at least a dozen signs in a half hour that advertise “Farm Fresh Eggs”. This is usually a cooler, filled with cartons and a box located next to it. You put in your money and you take what you pay for, all based on the honor system. There are also flower stands and small “hobby farm” stands, that are easy to find if you know where to look.

If you have an area nearby that is registered agricultural land, it is almost guaranteed that there are farmers out there willing to sell small amounts directly to consumers. Now, this is not to say that you should walk up to any old factory farm and ask to buy a side of beef – that’s not how it works. If a farm is selling what they grow directly to consumers, they will usually have signs on their property.

Start looking here before you plan your road trip:

Pick Your Own
Eat Wild: a state-by-state directory of farms
Eat Well Guide :: farms, markets & sustainable restaurants in North America

Eating Local Beyond the Market and the Farm

Farm stands are not the only way to source local in small cities and large towns. Another way that is equally as satisfying, is buying from local small businesses. You may find, in searching your town, city or village, that there are people in your own community making food from local resources. Artisan breads, cheeses, baked goods, coffee, etc. are just some of the goodies that will be found in many communities.

Next time you are looking for that afternoon chai lattΓ©, give a small, local coffee shop a try instead of Starbucks. You may be pleasantly surprised. Not only will you be giving your money to business owners in your own community, but you will have the potential to get to know them too. Knowing the person behind the counter making your Non-fat London Fog every morning just feels good.

So if you are looking to source local foods in your area, all you need to do is open your eyes and take a look around, you may have been passing them by all this time. Now that summer is here, markets are sure to be popping up all over the place, so keep your eyes open!

Do you have a great way of sourcing locally produced foods that’s not listed here? Let us know!

About Elizabeth

On her blog, Guilty Kitchen, Elizabeth writes about the joys of local food, buying sustainable and feeling much too guilty after indulging in too many rich desserts.

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Comments

  1. Thanks for two new links! I had been using the local harvest one, but it didn’t turn up any results that were close, so I’m glad to have more links to use.

  2. Thanks so much for thinking of us Canadians as well, it is greatly appreciated!
    .-= Marci’s last blog: TV Turnoff Week =-.

  3. One of the keys to sourcing local is to ask, ask, ask wherever you go. The more people ask where things come from – whether that is the grocery store or the corner coffee shop – the more purveyors think about it and act.

    Another good way to find local ingredients and happenings is Twitter. Many regions and municipalities have their own hash tag and people will often post tips, events, and findings related to that hash tag and many of those are food related.
    .-= Cheryl Arkison’s last blog: Taste Adventure – Eggplant =-.

  4. Great information!

    When we first moved here I sort of resigned myself to the big box store – mistakenly thinking there weren’t any other options. How wrong I was! Five years later and we very rarely go to the store – so many sources are right here, practically under our noses! I just had to learn where to look :-)

    We have some favorite farm stands along some of our summer travel routes. They have become part of our family traditions.

    Happy local eating!
    .-= Kara Fleck’s last blog: Showcase: Link Love =-.

  5. Thanks for this. Subscribe to Local Harvest, but evidently Louisiana is NOT into farmer’s markets. Love to find them when we travel.

  6. Great info, Elizabeth. I have to reiterate what Cheryl said: ask around and talk to your farmers. Once we met one farmer in the area they were able to direct us to another for fresh milk, another for pastured meats, another for CSA vegetables, etc.

    Another tip is to get in touch with your local Weston A Price foundation. Even if you don’t agree with all of the principles they will put you in touch with farmers even in hard to find places. This is one way that I have found local sources for nearly everything we eat.
    .-= Shannon’s last blog: What Real Food Bloggers Really Eat: Cara of Health, Home, and Happiness =-.

  7. I can’t get over how lucky we are here in our little German city. We’re surrounded by farms and as well as a local farmers market twice a week, there are street side market stalls set up just about everywhere selling locally grown food. Our apartment also backs onto some garden allotments, on Saturdays the people who rent them will sit out front selling their produce! It’s almost literally grown in my back yard (which is great because I don’t actually have a back yard!)
    .-= Satakieli’s last blog: Forget the rain =-.

  8. Thanks for the informative post. I am going to reference it when I speak to the subject in the future.
    .-= Melinda Neely’s last blog: Top Five Faves: Mother’s Day and More =-.

  9. I am completely with you, thanks for this great post! I’ve recently found the following website which is a great resource for finding local markets – http://www.realtimefarms.com
    Emma’s last post: Poached chicken- green bean &amp basil mayonnaise salad

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