From the outside, it might look like eating local and seasonal all year is too expensive, and the choices not always the most exciting ingredients to make great meals. How many choices can you have in the middle of winter in a cold climate? But there are ways to eat local, organic food all year long that’s healthful, delicious, and won’t break the bank. What’s more local than your own back yard? One of the best ways to ensure fresh, organic, locally grown produce is to grow your own.
If you have the room, why not plant a garden? A package of seeds and some soil or compost is literally dirt cheap no matter where you live. It takes a little time and some planning, but it is fun, can be very social if you include friends, neighbors and family, and is very cost effective. For a child, it can be a responsibility and a learning experience. If you live in a small apartment or just don’t have the space, try community gardening. Lots of places have it. You can rent a plot for yourself, or find an interested friend and split the cost and the harvest.
Buy things when they are in-season, and learn what fruits and vegetables are available in which seasons. Visit the Natural Resources Defense Council website in order to learn about seasonal options in your area. Visit local or area farms, farmer’s markets, pick your own venues, and co-ops to find fresh, locally grown, organic produce. Investigate community supported agriculture (CSA) in your area. One helpful resource is Local Harvest: http://www.localharvest.org/ which connects food and farmers to communities. You can find farmer’s markets on the USDA website, or via the National Sustainable Agriculture Food Service: https://attra.ncat.org/.
Making preserves, canning, pickling, and drying foods are options for colder months. You can freeze certain things long-term as well. Make large batches of soups, chilies, and stews for use in the winter. When you do make something, use the whole item. For instance, why toss an organic, free-range chicken carcass out when you can make soup, or chicken stock? One of the best things you can do is to cook at home. Go out for special occasions, or just occasionally. But eat the majority of meals at home. Cooking yourself allows you to source the ingredients and make them however you wish. Lots of studies have shown that home cooking is the healthiest, and the most sustainable. These are great ways to eat organic, local, sustainable meals that are budget friendly, and that everyone can enjoy.