When it comes to the food I buy and cook for myself my focus is always QUALITY. In the past decade, if not longer, we have seen a huge shift away from processed, chemical laden food to a desire for more whole, nutrient-dense, locally grown food. Not only does your food spend wayyyy less time in transit to get on your table guaranteeing fresher ingredients, but you are supporting the livelihoods of local families and businesses and giving back to your community. Sounds like a win-win to me!
It can be extremely overwhelming at first but with a little bit of research and knowledge you will soon become a pro at navigating your local food scene.
I am excited to be joining forces for yet another year with the Boston Local Food Festival happening September 17, 2017 on The Greenway to help support the growth and development of local farms and locally owned food-related businesses. This festival is near and dear to my heart and to kick-off my series of posts over the next few weeks I am going to share my 5 tips when it comes to shopping and cooking local!
1. Know what is in season
Produce is cheapest (and the most flavorful) when it in season. This seasonal food guide will help you find seasonal foods where you live and you can use that information to help guide you in your meal planning to ensure you are getting the best of the best for the current time of year!
2. Find your local Farmers Market
This may seem extremely obvious but your local farmers market is the best way to connect and buy from your local famers and food artisans. Here in Boston we even have Boston Public Market, a year-round, self-sustaining market with over 40 New England famers and vendors.
By connecting with your local farmers they can help you understand their different products and share with you exactly how the food was grown.
3. Join a CSA
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture and you can find one near you (along with local farmers and famers markets) through Local Harvest. A CSA is a way that you can buy local, seasonal, and fresh foods directly from the farm of your choice.
Each farmer offers a select number of “shares”aka a subscription or membership which consists of a box of produce and sometimes meat and dairy depending on the farm that either ships to you or you pick up on a weekly or monthly basis. Ingredients will vary with the season and it is a great way to get your hands on new food items you may not have purchased in your local grocery store.
4. Buy in bulk and learn to freeze or can your leftovers
This is an inside joke with my friends because they know my passion for buying in bulk. Not only does it save you money if you are buying what is on sale and in season, but if you learn how to properly store or freeze what you buy it can last you for many meals to come. And save you that hard earned cash because you will have less food waste.
I love to buy fresh herbs (one day I will have a home and have a garden #agirlcandream) and those tend to come in larger quantities than I need. One herb I buy a lot is basil and I always use my leftover basil after I make my recipe to whip up a batch of pesto. I freeze the pesto in small quantities in an ice cube tray and then keep in a freezer safe ziplock bag and use the cubes in future stir fry or pasta dishes. Pesto is a great option for leftover arugula too!
5. Adopt a Zero waste policy
How many of you have cut an onion, or celery, or carrot and automatically just toss those root ends or leafy stems right into the trash? How about a cheese rind? While those parts may not be edible they make excellent scraps to add to soups and stews.
Do you have leftover chicken bones? Toss them in a big stock pot with your leftover scraps, a bay leaf, and seasoning of your choice, cover with water and simmer away for a flavorful chicken stock. This is great to make even if you don’t plan on using it right away because it can be frozen easily!
I hope to see you at the Boston Local Food Festival on September 17, 2017. This event is FREE to the public, how cool is that?!
To learn more about the festival and the participating vendors check out www.bostonlocalfoodfestival.com!