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Dear Friendly Farmer,

I recently moved to a town with many more farms than we’ve ever lived near before. I’m used to shopping in the grocery store and usually look for organic when I can afford it. Now I’ll be looking for farmer’s markets or farm stores to shop in during the growing season, but I’m nervous. How do I go about finding these places? Will they have all the stuff I need?


Confused Customer

Dear Confused,

Bravo to you for asking the questions! Shopping locally and seasonally takes slightly more upfront effort, but is well worth it in the long run. Hopefully I can take some of the “scary” out of shopping local.

Talk to insiders. Farmers, friends, neighbors and Facebook are all great places to look to get advice about local eating. Don’t know where to go for milk? Ask the vegetable farmer. Who still has shares available at a local CSA? Ask in your local Facebook group. Want bones to make bone broth? Ask how-to at a health food store.

Ask for what you want, but buy what they have. Farmers love feedback from their customers! Want more tomatoes in your CSA share? No nitrates in your sausage? We want to hear what you like and don’t like about what we’re growing because pleasing you will keep you coming back. But if we don’t have this or that just now, don’t just walk away. The recipe called for flank steak and the farmer’s all out? Maybe skirt steak will work just as well. You love roasted carrots? Try parsnips!

Driving around town from farm to farm, though scenic, can be too time consuming for weekly shopping, so double up. Lots of small farms are now trying to offer more for their customer: they raise meat and also stock local dairy products in their farm store. They grow veggies, but offer meat in their CSA once in a while. Use your resources to find these gems. You might pay a bit more for having all those products in one place, but the reduction in travel time is worth it.

Spending part or all of your food budget at your local farms preserves land, is good for your local economy and is best for your body! Happy shopping!

Yours truly,

Friendly Farmer

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