Online tools for finding local & sustainable food

by Caroline Brown

Yesterday’s post about Jose Bove got me thinking again about how much I hate corporate farms and how we’d be better off if everyone was able to buy local food. One of the problems is that it’s so easy to go to a big chain grocery and buy whatever Big Ag is selling, and a lot of people don’t know how to find local produce and food. I’ve come upon a couple of good websites for finding local and sustainably-grown produce. If you’ve been wondering if your town has a local CSA (community supported agriculture) program or where the farmers markets are, these sites are for you.

Local Harvest has the most useful tool in my opinion, because it seems like more farms and markets are registered here than any of the others. You can search for local small farms, CSAs, farmers markets, and other local food sources.

Rodale’s The Farm Locator helps consumers find farms in their area, and they also help to connect business buyers (restaurant owners, markets, etc.) with local farmers.

The Eat Well Guide is a directory of restaurants, stores, farms, markets, and online businesses where you can buy sustainably-raised meat, egg, and dairy products.

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5 Responses to “Online tools for finding local & sustainable food”

  1. I recently learned about CSAs and found that there are several operating here in the Triangle of North Carolina. Where I live, there is a tiny farmer’s market open on Saturday mornings from May through October. I always look forward to the opening of the market in May and try to support these local farmers as much as I can. Jason can eat an entire pint of cherry tomatoes in one sitting (his favorite: Sungolds). But the idea of buying a share in a CSA seems like one more little step my family can take in supporting local farming and environmentally friendly growing practices. It’s also fun to get to know the folks who are growing the food you eat.

    I plan to participate in a local CSA organized by RTI International (where my husband works) in partnership with the NC Cooperative Extension and the Golden LEAF Foundation. The LEAF Foundation is a nonprofit created in 1999 to receive half of the funds coming to NC from the master settlement agreement with cigarette manufacturers. With these funds, the Foundation is helping NC to transition away from a tobacco-dependent economy through grants and investments in other economic prospects.

    Six local farms participate in this CSA. Most of them provide vegetables, fruits, and herbs; one provides fresh flowers and herbs only; one focuses on hormone-free, antibiotic-free beef, pork, and chicken. You can sign up with as many farms as you want. And some share prices are higher than others. One farm offers a full share of fruits and veggies for 20 weeks for $500 (or $25/week); no half-share option is available. Ouch.

    I’m leaning toward Brinkley Farms in Creedmoor, who offer a “couples” share for $266 for 22 weeks (or $12/week). In return I’ll get a box once per week of whatever fruits and veggies are in season or abundance.

    Another farm (Hannah Creek in Four Oaks) offers a small share for $350 for 27-30 weeks (that’s $11.50 to $13.00/week). So about the same cost. They seem to offer the same produce as Brinkley. Once a week I’ll get a bag of food that weighs between 3 and 6 pounds, they say–with the understanding that the bag will be lighter in the spring (full of lettuce) and heavier during the summer peaks (full of tomatoes, or a watermelon even!).

    I’ll post again and let you know which one I go with!

  2. I just found out about CSAs, after reading an article in Vegetarian Times. What a great idea. It would be a short season up here but still workable I think. Further south, Im thinking this must be a very popular (and win-win) proposition for the farmers involved and also the members who pay in and receive fresh local produce at a good price.

  3. Hi G – CSAs are getting more and more popular, that’s for sure. Here in RI, unfortunately, they are mostly in Providence or the southern part of the state (I live in the north). Which means I have to drive a little bit to pick one up. SO I think we’re sticking to farmer’s markets and farmstands this season. Maybe a CSA will get going in your area sometime soon–even with a shorter growing season!

  4. Im guessing a lot of them out in BC, they have a much longer growing season, really ideal conditions for most of that province. I will look forward to another thing to enjoy AFTER the big move happens. Thanks again C.

    BFN, G 🙂

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