Buying local food offers many perks such as freshness, quality, buying from those you know and trust, and the opportunity to support the local economy and a healthier, sustainable environment.
Summertime at the farmers’ market isn’t the only way to get farm-fresh food. Some farmers’ markets operate on an extended calendar or even throughout the year.
Another option is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program to receive or pick up produce from a local farmer.
Finding sources for farm-fresh food
To locate farmers’ markets, farm stands and CSA programs near you, visit LocalHarvest.org. For a complete list of Michigan farmers markets, visit the Michigan Farmers Market Association at mifma.org.
To find u-pick farms and farmers markets in Michigan, visit MichiganFarmFun.com. To see what’s in season in Michigan, visit FieldToPlate.com (click on Resources, then Seasonal Look Up Guide).
Tips to buy and eat local anytime
- Buy extra to dry, can or freeze.
- In winter, produce and other foods are still available in Michigan. Ask farmers for apples, celery, butternut and acorn squash, cheese, herbs, cider, honey, maple syrup, jams and jellies, mushrooms, and some root crops such as onions, white potatoes and turnips.
- Encourage your local grocery stores and restaurants to purchase more products from local farmers. Grow your own. Start small with a windowsill herb garden or container garden. What to do with the bounty? Recipes abound in farmers’ market cookbooks and on the Internet. For starters:
What’s a CSA?
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program is a convenient and mutually-beneficial way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from farmers. By placing orders in advance, the farmer knows how much to plant/produce according to the number of CSA members, and members are assured of receiving fresh food on a regular basis. A common arrangement is to pay a yearly membership fee for a particular amount of food (often based on family size) which the farmer reserves for each customer to pick up at the farm or another designated location. The food that’s available depends on the farm, the season and crop success. To find a CSA in your area, visit LocalHarvest.org.
- 3 medium crisp apples, cored and diced
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 large celery stalks, diced
- 1/2 c dark raisins
- 1/4 c finely chopped walnuts
- 1/3 c mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise
- Pinch of nutmeg
- Mixed baby greens (mesclun), about 5 to 6 ounces, or as desired
Combine the apples and lemon juice in a mixing bowl and toss together. Add the remaining ingredients except the greens, and toss well. Line 4 salad plates or shallow bowls with greens. Divide the salad over them and serve at once. From: MapleCreekFarm.com
- Coarse salt
- 3 c penne pasta
- ¼ c + 2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/2 small eggplant, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch strips (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 small zucchini, cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch strips (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/4 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into cut into 2-inch-by-1/2-inch strips (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 sprig fresh basil, leaves removed and torn into small pieces
- 1/2 c cherry tomatoes, quartered
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving (optional)
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add penne. Cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook until lightly golden. Add eggplant and cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add zucchini and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add peppers and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Add half the basil; season with a pinch of salt. Stir in tomatoes, and cook for about 3 minutes. Add cooked penne and enough reserved cooking water to loosen the mixture slightly. Toss to combine. Stir in remaining basil. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt. Divide evenly between two serving plates; serve immediately with cheese, if desired. From: MapleCreekFarm.com