Farmers markets are where most people go to seek out local foods. They are a great way to learn about what grows in your area and what's in season when. Weekly (or bi-weekly, or monthly) visits to a farmers market can be an easy, entertaining way to participate in your local food system and increase the amount of local foods you eat.
Check out these 10 Tips for Shopping at Farmers Markets to get started.
CSA stands for "community supported agriculture." When you join a CSA you buy a share in a farm's harvest, for the season, the quarter, the month, or in some cases, just the week. There is usually a weekly pick-up where members get their boxes of produce (some CSAs offer flowers, honey, eggs, and even chicken and meat). The farmers gets guaranteed sales and money in advance and the member-consumers get the freshest produce imaginable. CSAs put you in direct contact with a specific farm or farms and you really learn about the growing seasons in your area.
3. Food Co-ops
A food co-op (short for co-operative), is a store owned by its members. Some co-ops are closed and open only to the members, others are owned and run by the people who work at the co-op but open for anyone to shop in. Co-ops are not by definition wedded to local foods, but most food co-ops tend to build relationships with local and regional farmers.
Supermarkets are increasingly getting in on the trend of local foods, and some (especially smaller, local, or independent markets) are doing an impressive job of creating relationship with farms and local farmer co-ops to bring local foods to consumers. More than one has been caught, however, labeling food as "local" that stretches what shoppers might expect. Unless the store labels where the food is from specifically, be wary. If you ask and the store can't tell you which farm produce is from or which ranch meat is from, how can they guarantee that it's truly local? It's a case of needing to ask questions and learn a bit about your local and regional food system to be able to decide what's right for you.
5. Grow Your Own!
Nothing is as local as your own backyard. Gardening isn't for everyone, to be sure, and every avid gardener I know would recommend that newbies take it one step at a time to make sure they have the time and inclination to tend to their creation. Start with a few herbs and then branch out into easy, prolific veggies like lettuce, zucchini, or radishes.
Learn more about How to Start an Organic Vegetable Garden.