GET YOUR PRODUCE LOCALLY
Locally-grown produce is not only fresher; it will not have to be shipped across the globe to get to your dinner plate. Remember, food grown locally is not always organic. Though it may be grown just down the road and sold at your local farm stand, it may still be doused in pesticides and grown in chemical fertilizers.
The organic certification process established by the federal government is expensive, and some small farmers cannot afford it. This means some local foods are grown according to organic standards but are not “certified organic.” The only way to know for sure is to get to know your local farmer, so that you can learn about his practices.
The fewer chemicals used to grow your food, the better for all concerned. And the only way to ensure your food is as pure as possible, outside of talking to the farmer directly, is to look for the ORGANIC seal. There are a few different organic labels out there, but only one relates directly to foods: the USDA Organic seal.
This seal is one of your best commercial assurances of organic quality, so when in doubt: if it doesn’t carry the USDA Organic seal, you might not be getting what you’re paying for.
Growers and manufacturers of organic products bearing the USDA seal have to meet the strictest standards of any of the currently available organic labels. Certified organic crops cannot be grown with any of the following:
- Synthetic pesticides
- Bioengineered genes
- Petroleum-based fertilizers
- Sewage sludge-based fertilizers
There are a myriad of health reasons why you should consume more of your food raw. Also from an environmental perspective, you can save some energy by forgoing cooking and eating raw or fermented veggies instead.
When you choose produce in season, you can shop locally and support farmers in your area – this is great for your local community and it will taste fresher and better too.
If you have a lot of summer fruits and veggies that you need to use up before they spoil, try your hand at preserving them so they are available to you year-round. You can also ferment your veggies, which is absolutely fantastic for your health, and they will keep for months in your fridge.
Growing your own organic fruits and veggies is about as environmentally friendly as you can get. In the spring, try your hand at growing your favorites; it only takes a small parcel of land. If you’re thinking of planting veggies but are not sure where to begin, visit a few local plant nurseries around your home, especially those that specialize in organic gardening. The employees are likely to be great resources for natural planting tips that will help your garden thrive.
Even if you only have access to a patio, you can still grow some of your own veggies using containers. Tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, lettuce, and peppers are examples of plants that thrive in containers and there are a number of others that also do well in large, medium and small pots.
Organically grown leftover fruit and veggies scraps, leaves and grass clippings can turn into a valuable natural fertilizer if you compost them instead of throwing them in the trash.
JOIN A CSA
With a CSA, you purchase a “share” of a farm directly from a farmer, and in return get seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season (some CSAs also include other products, like meat, honey, dairy and more). It’s an excellent way to get locally-grown, seasonal produce for your family.