Fall is harvest time at farms all over the country. My family recently joined a cooperative of organic farmers that provides fresh local food right to our neighborhood. The truck drops off the food at one place (our house this week) and neighbors come and pick up their share.
It’s a little more work when its our turn to sort through the just-picked turnips, onions, and heads of lettuce, putting them into equal piles for the 16 members, but it is a rewarding and very cost-effective way to buy fresh local produce. Best of all, the sorting and handling restores a connection to the food that you just can’t get in a supermarket aisle. It’s also great for our kids to see that food comes from a farm and was grown and cared for by a real person (usually the same person driving the truck). Plus, we have an open invitation to visit the farms, to actually see how the food is grown.
Finding a local farm-direct buying cooperative took all of fifteen minutes. A quick internet search at www.local.com revealed three “organic food cooperatives” within a few miles of my home. A call to the local allergy center, which specializes in chemical sensitivities, confirmed which co-op had the best reputation. A phone call to the organizer was all it took to join. If all else fails, visit your local farmer’s market (a full national list is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets and simply ask around.