Thursday, July 30, 2009

Integrating Local Foods into Your Life...


The Bruce and Betty show focus for Friday, July 31st: SUPPORTING LOCAL and MORE SUSTAINABLE FOODS. This from my fellow earth-loving friend, Dawn Story, who has been working Kay's Kitchen, a local community project working to serve local farm-fresh food to homeless in the area. Thanks Dawn for letting us post your living document (i.e. please add comments and suggestions) on the Betty Blog!


25 Ways to Integrate Local Foods into Our Lives
Dawn Story, Growing Food & Community 2009
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1. Buy locally produced food to support our small, regional farms and preserve our agricultural heritage and traditions. It strengthens our local economy and reinforces the web that connects us to others within our communities. It safeguards our environment and lessens our dietary carbon footprint by reducing the number of miles our food has been shipped. Piedmont Environmental Council’s Buy Fresh Buy Local food directory is the ultimate resource for sourcing local food. Go to: www.buylocalvirginia.org.
2. Shop at one of many local farmers markets. Get to know the farmers. Listen to their stories and learn their growing practices. Touch, smell and taste fresh, healthy and locally grown food. I say, “Meet a farmer, make a friend”. For a local listing, go to www.buylocalvirginia.org. For a statewide listing, go to: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown-july/pdf/frmsmkts.pdf or www.localharvest.org.
3. Patronize grocers that sell locally produced food and request your favorite producers. For a list, go to: www.buylocalvirginia.org or www.localharvest.org.
4. Dine at restaurants that include local food on the menu. Inquire about where the food on the menu comes from. Recommend your favorite local producers. For a list, go to: www.buylocalvirginia.org or www.localharvest.org.
5. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a mutually supportive relationship between local farmers and community members with annual membership fees to cover farm production costs. Members receive weekly “shares” of the harvest during the local growing season which ensures them tasty, nutritious food and a deeper connection to their food source and community. For a list of regional CSAs, go to: www.buylocalvirginia.org or www.localharvest.org.
6. Eat fresh produce in seasonal and learn to cook with it. Consuming local foods within season is the diet that nature intended and is designed to supply us with many of the nutrients we need for health and well-being. These most auspicious foods allow us to take in the terroir – or essence – of the land from which they are grown. For a seasonal availability chart, go to: http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown/chart.shtml, or pick up a copy of one of our many regional food ‘zines featuring recipes and articles on seasonal foods, such as In The Kitchen, Flavor, Piedmont Virginian Magazine and Edible Blue Ridge,. The Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org) is a great resource for learning the art and appreciation of traditional food preservation and preparation. Or visit the Sustainable Table website at www.sustainabletable.org for a fusion of food advocacy and education, cooking methods and ideas. Alternatively, take a class in cooking with local food from Charlottesville Cooking School (www.charlottesvillecookingschool.com) or the Seasonal Cook (www.seasonalcook.com).
7. Sign up for the EAT Local list serve to stay abreast of – and to post -- current, local food issues and resources. Do so at: https://list.mail.virginia.edu/mailman/listinfo/sustcomfood.
8. Go visit a farm. Attend a nearby farm tour and meet those behind our local food supply. While you’re at it, try harvesting your own food at one of the area’s many U-Pick farms and orchards. For a list of U-Pick farms and farm tours, go to: www.buylocalvirginia.org or to http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown/index.shtml.
9. Participate in a community garden plot at either Meadowcreek Park or Azalea Park through Charlottesville Parks and Rec. Call 434-970-3592 for more info. Or, collaborate with your neighbors or home owners association to start one in an unused community greenspace. For more information on community garden projects in general, go to: www.communitygarden.org.
10. Get involved with an urban garden program, such as Quality Community Council’s Urban Farm Initiative. For more information, go to: http://cvilleqcc.com/Farm.aspx.
11. If you have a yard, plant a garden of your own and replace chemical and energy-intensive lawns with edible plants (fruit and nut trees, berries, herbs and vegetables)! For more information, go to: www.foodnotlawns.com. For courses teaching permaculture and sustainable gardening, contact the Blue Ridge Permaculture Network (http://www.blueridgepermaculture.net). Better yet, visit Edible Landscaping in Afton and taste your way around their diverse supply of functional and edible plants. www.ediblelandscaping.com. Or, to hire someone to garden for you contact info@growingfoodandcommunity.org.
12. If you don’t have a yard, learn about container gardening. Lots of foods can be grown in pots on patios and balconies and in windowsills. For consulting services, contact Growing Food & Community: info@growingfoodandcommunity.org.
13. Learn the art of traditional food preservation techniques (such as canning, drying and fermentation) and take advantage of surplus fruits and vegetables during a seasonal glut. Resources include: http://www.seasonalchef.com/preserver.htm, www.canningpantry.com, www.wildfermentation.com, www.sacredplanttraditions.org, http://www.ext.vt.edu.
14. Become an agricultural entrepreneur. Turn an old, cherished family recipe into a specialty food sensation by creating a great product using local ingredients and marketing it. Find out more by visiting the Virginia Agriculture & Food Entrepreneurship Program at www.vafep.org.
15. Share surplus food and garden supplies with friends and neighbors in need or to area food banks and community kitchens like the Thomas Jefferson Area Food Bank (http://www.brafb.org) and the Charlottesville-area Emergency Food Bank (http://avenue.org/efb). Donate unusable yet perishable CSA shares by contacting the Charlottesville Community Food Project. Their website is: www.ccfp.wordpress.com.
16. Get involved in community foods projects or start one of your own. Find out what initiatives are taking place and how to get involved by joining Transition Blue Ridge’s “Food & Agriculture” committee. www.transitionblueridge.org. Or contact info@growingfoodandcommunity.org for more ideas.
17. Talk to your friends, family and neighbors about the importance of eating locally, the state of our current food insecurity and what options are available. Form a “support” group and, together, take the “locavore” challenge! For ideas go to www.eatlocalchallenge.com.
18. Host or attend a dinner party with a local foods theme. Discuss where and how the foods were grown and compare the taste and vibrancy of these foods to processed and far-travelled foods. Not sure how to organize one, let alone cook up fresh, local produce and foods for a crowd? Contact Lisa Reeder, our local food and drink consultant extraordinaire at www.alocalnotion.wordpress.com.
19. Host or attend a showing of a documentary on food production and supply issues and follow it with a discussion. Check out our area’s own “Meet the Farmer” cable television program featuring interviews with local food producers, buyers and consumers to hear what current issues are facing our local food supply and what initiatives are taking place. Go to www.meetthefarmer.tv. Good feature films to screen include “The Future of Food”, “King Corn”, “The Real Dirt on Farmer John”, “The World According to Monsanto”, “Power of Community”, “Peak Moment Television” and “Eat At Bills,” available from Netflix, by searching online or by special order from your local video rental.
20. Join forces with others interested in discussing local food issues, initiatives taking place and how to get involved. Transition Blue Ridge hosts a monthly community dialogue about food (www.transitionblueridge.org). Express your concerns, ideas and opinions so that our local officials are aware that food security is an important issue. Support organizations that advocate for scale-appropriate agricultural laws like the Virginia Independent & Consumers Association (www.vicfa.org). Check out what is happening with the Virginia Food Policy Council by going to http://groups.google.com/group/VAFoodPolicy.
21. Preserve our agricultural heritage and biodiversity by learning the practice of seed saving. Go to: www.southernexposure.com to learn about seed saving, to buy seeds and to get information on attending the annual Monticello Heritage Harvest Festival on September 12.
22. Catch rainwater from the roof in rain barrels or cisterns to conserve precious water that can be used to irrigate the garden without taxing our water supply. Contact our local rain barrel guru, Brian Buckley, at brianbuckley4@yahoo.com or find them at the EcoShop in Preston Plaza, Charlottesville next to Integral Yoga (where you can also buy local produce!).
23. Support organizations working to ensure a safe, nutritious and equitable food supply through volunteering and donating useful supplies and through making financial contributions. Volunteer opportunities abound at any of the aforementioned organizations and initiatives. Also find out about volunteer and benefactor opportunities for the new day haven and community kitchen serving the Charlottesville-area’s hungry and homeless (slated to be open this fall) by contacting info@growingfoodandcommunity.org.
24. Learn and practice sustainable farming in the state of Virginia by reaching out to groups like the Virginia Association for Biological Farming (www.vabf.org), the Center for Rural Culture (www.centerforruralculture.org), the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (www.ssawg.org).
25. Vote with your dollar. Remember, every local food purchase you make contributes toward building a safe, secure, healthy food system and supply.

2 comments:

Jean said...

What a neat and thrifty way to save dollars and rain water! Congratulations and the pictures are great!
Remember, rainwater is only as clean as the gutters & downspouts are that are used for rainwater harvesting.
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You save time, energy, and money twice. Once, by the time and energy you save while using our the Gutter Clutter Buster and the second, when you can collect cleaner water, faster and more freely from gutters that are not clogged or contaminated from decaying debris, mosquitoes breeding that carry West Nile Virus, along with those other “nasty bugs” (roaches) that carry 33 different infectious diseases.
It is our desire that you all. . .Stay Well, Stay Safe, and God Bless America. And, “Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.”

Andrea said...

Thank you for this great post! We are so lucky to live in a community with so many wonderful food sources and initiatives.

My husband and I try to eat as locally as possible, growing food in our own 20x20 garden and visiting the farmers at the market every weekend. It is such a rewarding experience...there is nothing like sitting down to dinner and being able to name the origin of every ingredient on your plate.

I write about our experiences in our kitchen at www.bellaeats.com. Please visit for recipe ideas using local, seasonal ingredients!