The locavore movement is all the rage these days, proving once more that “everything old is new again.” 100 years ago, most people were locavores, meaning that they typically ate food that was grown or produced close to home. Of course, back then, fresh tomatoes were pretty hard to come by in February, and when cherries or watermelons were in season, they were a special treat. Now we have a seemingly unlimited variety of fresh produce available year-round, yet many people are re-discovering the simple pleasures of eating local seasonal foods. No matter how much time, money, or space you have, you too can eat locally! Here are some ways:
1) Grow Your Own: this can be as big or small as you’d like.
Beginners can start with some containers of herbs. Store-bought basil or even fresh mint can be pricy. A pot of home-grown basil can provide wonderful flavor all summer long for a fraction of the cost. And mint will usually “grow like a weed” and return year after year. Try steeping a few stalks of fresh mint in hot water for a refreshing tea. Great iced, too!
Fruit Lovers can make the initial investment in planting trees or berry bushes on their property, and then look forward to fresh seasonal fruit for years to come.
Experienced Gardeners will want to go all-out with a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruit. You can start your plants indoors from seeds or buy plant “starts” from your local nursery. Either way, make sure you wait until after the last frost to transplant starts in your garden.
2) Farmers Markets offer a great selection of fresh seasonal produce. Many markets also offer a variety of items with a longer shelf-life, such as jams, honey, or maple syrup. If you are really ambitious, you can purchase bushels of tomatoes when they are at their peak of flavor/lowest price and can them at home for use in the winter.
Gainesville Farmers Market – opening May 6th Tuesday 2:30-6:30 pm, Saturday 7 am to sellout Hallcountyfarmersmarket.org
Dahlonega Farmers Market – Tuesdays 3-6 pm and Saturdays 8 am – 12 pm Dahlonega Farmers Market
Downtown Gainesville Market on the Square – Fridays 2:30-6:30 Gainesville on the Square Market
Athens Farmers Markets – athensfarmersmarkets.org
3) Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is like a subscription service for vegetables. You sign up in advance of the season. Then the farmers provide your share of produce week-by-week as it is harvested. This is a great way to enjoy a wide variety of produce and support local small farmers. Local Harvest is a great resource for locating CSA programs in your area. The following is a link to CSA’s: http://www.localharvest.org
4) Pick-Your-Own is another way to participate in the local food economy. You get the freshest produce available, and it’s easy to get quantities large enough to freeze or can some for later months. Why not enlist your family and friends to come along? A day picking berries is a fun activity for country folk and city slickers alike. Pickyourown.org is a wonderful clearinghouse for up-to-date information. Here’s a link to their list of pick-your-own farms and orchards for Atlanta and surrounding counties, including Hall County: http://www.pickyourown.org/GAEJ.htm#listings
5) Bonus: Drink Locally! The Georgia Craft Brewers Guild will help you find great locally-made beer by the six-pack, on tap, or in a growler to-go.
6) Order your veggies ONLINE and pick up exactly what you want!