The COVID-19 pandemic has completely reshaped every part of the food world. It has changed our pantries, eating patterns, the restaurant industry, and the local farms and farmers. Food has never felt more important and local farmers have never been so important. They may be deemed as “essential workers” right now, but they’ve always been essential in the food industry.
Small local farms and farmers are suffering as distribution channels have shrunk and restaurant orders have diminished over the past year.
But these local farms can still sell to everyday cooks, and we’re at home cooking now more than ever.
There are plenty of ways to get fresh local farm produce, some are old, some are new and some might vary according to region. But one thing hasn’t changed; food consumption.
Here is how you can support your local farms and farmers right now:
1. Sign up for Community Supported Agriculture
CSA or community supported agriculture is a farm subscription that gets you periodic produce – depending on the season. CSA’s come in various sizes and frequencies, many are weekly and some have an option to add other products, like eggs or meat, into your regular box.
Traditionally, CSAs have been available for pickup at farmers’ markets, farms, and at a select few other destinations depending on the individual CSA. But in the time of coronavirus, many farms have expanded pickup points to restaurants, markets, and other local hubs.
Some farms will even deliver your CSA share right to your doorstep. If you want to sign up for a CSA, contact a local farm and see if they can get signed up for one.
2. Shop at Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets are still the top-notch source for diverse produce. Communities are taking a different approach in organizing farmer’s markets. Some may still be holding them, putting social distancing and other measures into place. Some may be switching to pick-up only. Some may postpone or cancel their markets.
The best thing about the farmers’ market is that you can buy diverse produce from many different farms in one place. You can go in without any firm idea of what you want to buy or cook that night, and walk out with some just-laid eggs, eye-popping purple cabbage, and new dinner plans.
3. Eat at Restaurants That Use Local Food
Many local restaurants in your community buy their produce from local farmers. But, they cannot keep buying from the local farms if the restaurant is not getting enough orders or goes out of business.
You can do two good deeds at once by ordering take out from eateries that buy locally, supporting both the farmers and the restaurant.
4. Buy Local Products at Your Grocery Store
Next time when you head to buy groceries at a grocery store or decide to buy your groceries online, make sure to look for the label “Foodland Ontario” on certain products. This label means that the product you are about to buy has been grown locally.
Buying local products at your grocery store will not only help you cook great dinners but will also help support local farms and farmers.
5. Visit a Farm Stand
If you don’t want to visit your grocery store for fresh produce, you can directly visit a farm. Many farmers set up a farm stand and sell all the produce that was grown on that farm. But not all farms set up a farm stand, so call ahead if you are going to visit one or aren’t sure. Nothing beats the feeling of picking up fresh produce right off the farm.
Make sure that you do not visit a farm that is really crowded and follow proper social distancing guidelines in your region.
With COVID-19 affecting local farms and farmers, let’s take a moment to appreciate the hard work and dedication that these men and women put in every single day. Whether you are a meat and potato person or prefer a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, if you ate today, thank a farmer by supporting local farms and farmers.