Here are a few quick tips on ways you can make your meal not only look patriotic but be patriotic this Independence Day.
1. Join a crop share (CSA). This may sound SUPER "crunchy" but it's actually a very practical way to get awesome locally grown, often organic produce delivered right to your door. YES, I said right to your door. CSAs are making farm-to-table easier than ever before. Most crop shares have awesome delivery services for those of us that can't squeeze a weekly or bi-monthly run out to the farm into our carpool plan. Tell me that doesn't fit into your busy schedule. Even better, our CSA emails us in advance with meal suggestions based on the basket of deliciousness headed our way. If you don't know of any CSA farms near you take a look at this cool site: www.localharvest.org
2. Shop at your local farmers market. The farmers market is great place to browse and shop for fresh local food that is in season. But it's also a great place to get the skinny on who's got the best food in town. Take time to talk to vendors. You will discover lots of great information about other local artisan shops and restaurants that source food locally. But more on that in Tip 5! .
3. No Food Label = No purchase. When your in the grocery store and the origin of your food isn't labeled, don't bring it home. Choosing to shop only with grocers that understand the importance of food labeling is a big deal. It's so important to understand not only what is in your food; but it's also important to understand where your food came from and where it was manufactured.
4. Cruise the PEREMETER! Particularly, when you are in a chain grocery or big box store be vigilant to shop the outer rim of your grocery store. Most of the things you can purchase from those center isles (such as grains and breads) can be purchased from local millers and bakers. If you do find yourself in one of those middle isles refer to tip 3.
5. Local bakeries and restaurants are the best! Many of them source locally and are connected to other like minded businesses. Our favorite bakery, Sweet Theory turned us onto to one of our knew favorite eateries, Digg foods.
6. Join the PARTY. Local festivals that center around local businesses and green, organic living are a great way to find and support locally made in the USA products. We discovered our bakery of choice at an awesome local festival, VegFest. We also have a fantastic arts market in town that's kind of like a hybrid festival, farmers market, local artisan show. It's my favorite spot to buy local milk. Yeah ... milk.
7. Get Seedy. Okay, cheesy pun intended. But seriously, planting your own garden is a great way to grow local. Container gardening is super easy and affordable, but if you are up for the challenge I say dig in your own local dirt! If you don't have a back yard join a community garden. Be sure you reach out to local garden shops to source your supplies and seeds.
8. Visit local Farms It's fun. We have so many in our area. Contact a few to learn when they are having You Pick events. In some cases you may find the farm is open and selling goods daily, weekly, or monthly. Straw hat ... optional. But do remember if you are heading to a "You Pick" event you might need: Sunscreen, bug repellent, a few baskets, & good close toed shoes that can manage diverse terrain.
9. Eat in Season. I know this one is on EVERY clean and fresh eating top ten list. But it ALWAYS bares mentioning. The reason is quite simply because it is important. Knowing what is in season and what grows locally empowers you to eat food that has traveled significantly shorter distances to get to you, supports local businesses, and is seriously fresh.
10. Don't forget the Gear. Patriotic plates, napkins, silverware, table clothes and picnic blankets abound this time of year. But take a peek at the label before you make the purchase. Look for options that are made in the USA or consider re-using things you already have in the house. Mason jars can make great cups of Iced Tea or serve as utensil holders, use a handmade quilt for your picnic blanket rather than rushing out to buy one.
Happy Independence Day!