Learn to Cook Local & Eat ‘Slow Food’

The local food movement has become very active in the last few years. People have become tired of spending their hard-earned money on bland, mass-produced food that had to be trucked in from across the country, or worse, shipped from another country entirely. These practices are harmful not only to the environment but also to local economies. Instead, people are opting for food that has been locally and sustainably produced. It has far less environmental impact, it’s fresher, and, in the case of produce, it tastes better because it’s actually picked when it’s ripe. Furthermore, it supports responsible small-scale farming practices and produces money for the local economy. If you want to become a localvore, look no further.

Join a Co-Op

Joining a co-op is a great way to get started with local cooking. Every week, or every month in some cases, you pay a nominal fee to receive a box of locally-grown foods. It’s like a surprise, because you never know what you’ll get. It could be raw honey, bell peppers and milk one week and purple broccoli, rainbow carrots, and free-range eggs the next. How you use it is up to you. It’s fun to get creative on a whim with new ingredients!

Frequent a Farmer’s Market

Thanks to the increasing popularity of local, organic and sustainable foods, farmer’s markets are popping up at an unprecedented rate. There’s probably even one in your community! At a farmer’s market, you have access to a wide variety of affordable, fresh and delicious produce, meat, eggs, dairy and other foods that have been grown on a local scale. These markets are also some of the best places to source heirloom veggies and fruits, something that can be valuable if you want to start your own garden from heirloom seeds.

Use What’s Available

Local cooking requires you to be more adaptive with your meals. It’s so easy to become accustomed to seasonal fruits and veggies being available on demand all year from the grocery store. If you need tomatoes for the tacos you’re making but they’re not in season, then you could would just go to the store and get some. Cooking and eating locally gets you out of this habit by restricting you to what’s available during any given time of the year. That just might mean substituting things like zucchini or squash for that tomato. Using what’s available at the moment teaches you how you can use foods in new and exotic ways.

More Than Fruits and Veggies

Local food is so much more than wholesome, responsibly-grown fruits and veggies. Local farms all over the nation are also producing dairy, eggs and meat using methods that are good for people, the planet and the animals themselves. You can even buy honey locally, especially raw honey that still contains its nutrients, pollen and enzymes. Jams and jellies crafted from local fruits and berries are also a common find. They go great on a slice of toast made from locally-produced grain!

Join, or Start, a Community Garden

Like farmer’s markets, community gardens are becoming increasingly popular. They’re a fantastic way to enjoy local produce while also beautifying your community and helping you get more exercise. Unfortunately, community gardens have become so popular that it can be difficult to get a spot in one. Some community gardens have waiting lists that are more than two years long. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother applying or, even better, you can gather a group of neighbors and start your own community garden. Whether you join or start a community garden, it’s important to invest in the proper materials, such as gardening tools, plastic tanks for compost bins (and/or storing rain water), and seeds for your burgeoning plants.

J.A. Morris is a green-thumb blogger who writes about a variety of green living topics.

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