by Bridget Alexander.
January is the time to get your plan on for eating local this year. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to focusing on local food or been doing it for years – you can do it better, or at least more efficiently.
Most of us are living a haphazard life that we squeeze out in-between work and family obligations and one of the ways our over-stuffed lives can start getting simpler is through local food. However, you need a plan.
First decide how you will be sourcing your local food?
- Farmers’ Markets
- Farm Stands
- Growing Your Own
- Will you commit to sourcing year round or keep it to the traditional June-October?
- Perhaps you will make a couple of special local food buying binges for Thanksgiving and winter holidays?
My tip is to decide on which of the above you will participate in and then lay out the budget – you may find you need to cut one thing to have another or that you would love to be growing some of your own food but you really don’t have the time.
According to a survey conducted by SEMAP in 2013, the majority of households buying local do so once a week, at farmers’ markets and spend up to $50. Farm stands are next and then CSAs.
CSAs can be great because you buy in at one flat rate for the season, but that decision takes commitment and planning. It cost from $450-$750 or more to join a CSA and you need to come to the farm on the day, or sometimes a choice of two days, and time to pick up your share each week. Trust me, when you get busy you may miss a week and then you’re losing money on your investment.
Many times you will find yourself going to a farmers’ market or farm stand in addition to your CSA share. So, you might want to estimate $50 a week plus your CSA investment. And I would say that many households will also want to at least grow a few vegetables themselves.
There will be some expense for seeds and you will want to buy them now, if you haven’t already. I’m a Fedco fan myself. They are based in Maine and all of the seeds they sell will grow in Massachusetts. It’s exhilarating when those seeds arrive at your door and even more thrilling when they sprout! Make sure to get your soil tested if growing directly into your ground, or plan on buying or building a raised bed.
You will be more successful with a plan and a budget.
Make local food a priority this year and you may need to streamline some other elements in your life. You may need to simplify it. Because you will need time to prep and cook your treasure trove of goodies.
Now, if you really take it to the next level you will want to can your veggies, too – and that will take a significant amount of commitment to sourcing extra (and the cost) and then the time to can – don’t forget storage…
Please share your plans for eating local this year in the comments!