Arguably the most rewarding way to commit to shopping local is by engaging with a local farmer through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. One online advocate for shopping and eating local, LocalHarvest.org, describes a CSA this way:
Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.
Some say that paying upfront for a regular dose of produce helps if you’re just trying to eat healthier (Could you really let a whole box of tomatoes, sweet corn, and melon go to waste in the deep of summer?), but there are other benefits to buying a share of your favorite CSA farmer’s hard work (find some Wichita-area CSAs in our directory):
- Relationship & Community: knowing where our food comes from goes a long way to engage our community. By investing your hard-earned dollar into locally sourced products, you are more inclined to be aware of changes to weather and local economic issues.
- Keeping Money in Local Economy: When you send money to your farmer, you know the money is going into the pockets of someone who will spend there money IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
- More Money Goes To the Food You Eat and less to distribution, packaging, grocery store employees. In this way, you can end up saving money for you and your family.
Tips for Buying Fresh and Local
Even if you are a “pro” at buying the best food around, it never hurts to review some keys to success when shopping for fresh local food:
- Keep produce fresher longer with produce savers like Debbie Meyer’s Green Bags.
- When preparing your meals, always prioritize your produce over your pantry items to reduce food waste.
- Try to make time to process your fresh produce on the weekend – if they’re chopped and ready-to-eat, it will make meal prep throughout the week much easier.
- Take your reusable shopping bags to the farmers market so your farmer doesn’t have to give you a plastic throw-away bag.
- Know your season: avoid disappointment at the market by learning to shop and eat a seasonal diet.
We Want to Hear From You
Some of our goals here at the ICT Food Circle are to better understand how we can engage our “food circle” (within 150 miles of Wichita) and we need your help to get started. Please spend a few minutes completing one survey that fits describes the role you play in our community (see below). And, as always, EAT WELL.