With the Brownsville Farmers’ Market season successfully under way after last Saturday’s plant starts sale, the weather nice ‘n’ warm and everyone in the active, enterprising mood, it is a perfect time for all of us to recommit ourselves to sourcing local food and supporting local business.
Sourcing local food may seem like a chore, but it is easily incorporated into our habits and routines with just a dash of organization, creativity, and attention to what’s out there. Here are some of the best ways that you can get in on the action:
Shop at the Farmers’ Market. This remains the absolute best way to impact the local food economy. Get to know your local farmers at the market, tell them what you like, and most are happy to deliver on the produce that you crave. Starting this conversation now, early in the season, still gives us enough time to get things in the ground for summertime harvest. You have the unique ability at the market to shop and gather different items at each booth, supporting each entity and broadening your own connection to the community. Others enjoy buying produce from a different single producer every Saturday. However you choose to do it, it’s so much more fun than the grocery store! There’s nothing us farmers like more than regular customers, and you can be sure that your dedication will be rewarded. Can’t make it on Saturday? CFA is happy to help in contacting local food producers so that you can buy direct at a time that works for you.
Visit a farm stand. You know, the signs that you see on along the highway or country road, many advertising the latest in seasonally ripe deliciousness? As easy as it is to fly by a couple times a day, it is every bit as easy to pull off and visit once a week. The charm of a farm stand lies in the ability to see the farmer and their family in their element on the very land where the food is produced, bees a buzzing, tractors a roaring, chickens a scratching and farm dogs a barking.
Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. We are lucky enough to have this option right here in the Calapooia corridor, which on a regular basis provides you a tremendous value of the freshest and most beautiful produce in exchange for an advance payment arrangement with the farmer. Now that the season is starting, think about how much money you spend monthly at the grocery store on produce. Chances are, it adds up to more than the cost of a CSA share. This is an incredibly fun option for anyone that loves food.
Look for local at the store. Grocery stores are getting increasingly wise about stocking locally produced food, which is a winning situation for all of us. Don’t ignore those signs that indicate local origins, and don’t brush off a price that might be a buck or two more than the stuff shipped from Mexico or California – those few extra dollars are worked back into your own community, in turn making it a better place to live.
Patronize restaurants that use local ingredients. You would be hard pressed to find a restaurant owner that isn’t interested in sourcing local food. It’s simple: food that hasn’t been shipped thousands of miles will make their customers happy while at the same time making their chefs look good. Speak up in a casual, supportive way at your favorite dining establishments if you have ideas about how they could go local. Seasonal specials are the stuff of legend and can become the backbone of a local cuisine that continues to put Brownsville on the map.
Become a “regular” at the market, tell your friends and family where they too can get the most delicious fresh food, impress your guests with interesting meals, make your voice as a consumer heard, and as I’ve described before, get back to that locally-based, food with a face. At the dawn of a new season, the time is now!