Tips for Buying Local Food

There’s been lots of talk about how buying locally raised food reduces our global footprint.  Here are some suggestions for how to make the transition:

• Start small.  Rather than giving up your favorite long-distance foods like coffee, bananas, or chocolate, commit to buying a few things locally.  Dairy products, meats, fruits and vegetables in season are available at nearby farms or farmers’ markets.  Hannaford and Shaws feature local produce as well.

• Be flexible.  Some local food is more expensive than many supermarket alternatives, but if you buy high-quality meat and cheese, for example, and eat it less often, you can find affordable whole foods like grains, beans, and in-season produce.  If everybody spends $10 a week for local food it will help our farmers and our economy.

• Go slowly.  It’s hard to change our food habits.  Be patient with yourself and your family as you try new approaches to eating.  Local fruits are so worth waiting for.  They taste better and are more nutritious.  And you can throw some strawberries in your freezer to enjoy all winter.

• Find out how one family eats healthy food on $37 a week by checking out the Local Harvest Blog:

— from Erin Barnett’s Local Harvest Newsletter (

• Shop at a local farmers’ market or farm.  In addition to summer farmers’ markets in Cumberland, Falmouth, Yarmouth, and Freeport, there are winter farmers’ markets in Portland and Brunswick, as well as holiday markets around here.  To find ones near you, go to

• Join a CSA.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  A consumer pays a farmer for a share of produce before the growing season starts, and the farmer uses the money to buy seeds and fertilizer for planting his/her garden.  Then the shareholder receives a weekly bag of produce throughout the growing season.  Many farms invite shareholders to work on the farm a few hours a week in return for a reduced cost.  For a list of local CSAs, check the MOFGA website:

• Plant a garden and grow as much of your own food as you can.

• Dry, can, jam, or freeze extra fruit and vegetables.  Work with a friend to make the project much more fun.

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