7 Ways to Amp Up Your Local Food Experience

  1. Make a direct connection to a local grower through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Besides a delicious weekly reminder of what’s in season, you can learn things like how weather affects harvests and exactly how long it takes a pumpkin to grow. Find friends or neighbors to split your share if the quantities or commitment feel overwhelming.
  2. Seek out and support retail stores and restaurants that have made a public commitment to source from local growers. If signage or menus aren’t clear, ask for more information. If they can’t tell you where something came from, think twice about putting it in your mouth.

  3. Find and patronize nearby Farmers’ Markets. If every household in Pennsylvania spent just $10 a week on local foods, $2.5 billion would remain in our local economy every year.
  4. If access to certain foods isn’t convenient, get creative! Consider organizing a “reverse milk route” to bring fresh milk to your neighborhood direct from a local dairy. Or gather a group of friends and arrange the purchase of a whole hog’s worth of bacon and sausage, or a side of grass-fed beef for your freezers.
  5. Grow something, even if it’s only herbs on a windowsill or a tomato plant on the patio. And, if you’re already a master gardener, push the envelope by exploring a small backyard flock of chickens. (Disclaimer: this might not technically be legal in every jurisdiction.)
  6. Get handy in your kitchen. Canning, drying, pickling or fermenting can transform short-season specialties into products you can enjoy for months (especially through the lean winter). Don’t think of it as kitchen drudgery—invite folks over and turn it into a party (the opposite of pot-luck; everyone leaves carrying something yummy). Bring grandma on board as a technical advisor.
  7. Have a local food adventure. Both city and country have plenty of interesting markets, pick-your-own operations, wineries and other food destinations. More and more farms are also offering agrotourism opportunities through “farmstays.”