This is excerpted from an article written by my friend Jason Fowler, the founder of Sustainable Traditions and the new Land and Table project.

Eat Local

 

Intentionally focusing on eating local is all about understanding the source of our food in an effort to make choices that are more healthy for our bodies, the land, and our local economy.

1) Learn the issues

Choosing to eat local is a shift in thinking. It is a reorienting of our food and money priorities. Economic, ecological, social, and personal health issues intersect our dinner table. It’s important to seek out resources, books, documentaries, etc, that can give us a rounded understanding of why eating local matters. …

2) Grow your own

One of the most common criticisms I hear against choosing to eat local and sustainable is that it is too “elitist”. Because buying healthier foods can be more expensive you may think it won’t fit into your food budget, especially lately as food prices are rising. The surest and quickest way to eat local and even somewhat organic is to grow it yourself. Choosing to be a producer and not just a consumer is the first place to begin. …

2) Buy cooperatively

There are times when buying as a group can really save you a lot of money. For instance, if you are interested in buying local, grassfed beef it would be most economical to go in with a few other families to buy a whole cow rather than buy particular cuts a little at a time. You can also start or join a buying club. …

3) Support sustainable producers

The local food movement is integrally linked with sustainable agricultural practices. Sustainable agriculture involves growing food and raising animals in a way that continually restores the land and respects the animals. Using toxic pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers is destructive over the long term and does not build the health of the soil. Also raising animals in confined feeding operations raises the risk for disease. One of the main reasons for buying local is that it makes more sense ecologically. …

4) Define what matters to you

Eating local can mean different things to different people. For some people it means a 100 mile radius; for other people it means only eating food grown in the state; still for others they are fine if it comes from the their part of the country. You need to decide what matters to you and why. Start small and be flexible. …

5) Seek the source

Right now eating local is a popular trend so it seems everything and everybody wants to be in the game. The reality is though there is no certification for what local means. You should always inquire where the food comes from and how it is grown. The whole point of eating local is restoring our relationship with the food, the land and those who grow and produce it. Build relationships with the farmers and it will change the way you eat. As farmer, philosopher, and writer Wendell Berry has said: “Eating is an agricultural Act

 

Read the entire article and other great content at Land and Table.