Eating green is tougher than it sounds. I’ve been a vegetarian since the age of four and I upgraded to vegan status in late 2010, but there are still times when I feel that my efforts are inadequate. Sure, I buy local produce whenever I can, I recycle just about everything, and I try my best to implement eco-friendly strategies into my daily life, but am I really living up to my full potential as a supporter of the go-green movement? The more I think about it, the more I wonder…
Since I went vegan, my consumption of fresh vegetables and fruits has increased dramatically. I don’t want to be one of those “junk food vegans” who lives on potato chips and processed foods, so I now frequent the grocery store in my area about once a week in search of wholesome, organic veggies to cook with. Do you know how expensive and time consuming it is to find fresh, flavorful produce—let alone locally-grown produce—at a reasonable price each week? I was shocked when I sat down and calculated the totals.
Luckily, though, my best friend and I found the seemingly perfect solution to our produce problems: buying fruits and veggies directly from local farmers. I never thought to research this angle before because I live in an area where farmers markets are (surprisingly) few and far between. But unbeknownst to me, there are actually dozens of options in my area alone. You can even purchase shares (memberships) from some local farms, which entitles you to receive a constant supply of fresh produce for the season!
Here’s how to proceed if you want the best locally-grown goods:
Head to www.LocalHarvest.org and enter your search criteria. You can filter by farms, farmers’ markets, grocery stores or co-ops, online stores, and a few more. Don’t forget to specify your location. If you’re searching for a particular type of produce, you can enter that as well. My LocalHarvest search yielded 57 results that I never even knew existed near me—how exciting!
Also, you’ll want to check out www.sustainabletable.org if you’re dedicated to sustainable foods. (According to Sustainable Table, sustainable agriculture is “a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities”). Contrary to popular belief, not all locally-grown food is sustainable; however, this site is an excellent place to start researching the possibilities. You can learn all about sustainable goods and how to obtain them, you can snag shopping guides to help you ask the right questions, and you can find recipes to spice up your meals.
If you’re interested in purchasing a yearly share for a farm in your area, all you have to do is contact them directly. I emailed the most convenient farm near me and received a detailed response the same day! That means I’m well underway to receive fresh, local, and sustainable produce for a full 20 weeks…and I can’t wait. Be sure to inquire about donations as well; my chosen farm offers a “Feed-a-Family” program that pools donations in order to provide produce to needy families who couldn’t otherwise afford to eat it. My efforts may not singlehandedly save the world, but it feels wonderful to make a difference (no matter how small).
Do you have any more tips for aspiring health nuts or green eaters? Which eco-friendly and/or sustainable techniques do you consider the most effective in your daily life?
Jill Tooley is the Content Marketing Manager and Social Media Manager for a top-notch online promotional products distributor, Quality Logo Products, Inc. She also manages and writes for QLP’s marketing blog.