Right after we moved, I got a request to talk about the process I use to source new supplies. That is, what I do to find local, organic, cheap food, gifts and toiletries in my area. It was an interesting request, and one that I’m happy to oblige. After all, how often does someone get the chance to look into this type of thing? I won’t have an opportunity like this for another few years when we move again.
Luck has a lot to do with it. I’m lucky enough to live in New England — New Hampshire, to be precise — and close enough to a liberal city that finding organic items is not too difficult. And not only are we twenty minutes from a liberal town, we’re another twenty minutes from a liberal college, which means more of an influx of new ideas and consumer demands, which means more organic and fair trade products.
One of the other perks of living in this area of New Hampshire is that there are farms everywhere. I can’t drive ten minutes in any direction without seeing a farm or a farm stand. I’m not telling you this to brag, but rather to explain why in some ways it’s been easy for me to find good, local food.
Finding vegetables has been my top priority, so far. Vegetables are the staple of our diet; we average 3-4 vegetarian dinners a week. I prefer to buy vegetables from local sources and vegetables with minimal packaging. Vegetables that taste good are always nice too. To that end, the way I’ve found our vegetables is by getting to know our area. There’s a farmer’s market once a week in our town, and a larger farmer’s market once a week in the next town over. America’s Oldest Family Farm isn’t far away — their tomatoes taste amazing. I came across these two sources by walking and driving around, doing my errands and paying attention to signs.
When I see something interesting but don’t have time to investigate further, I make a note of it in my pocket notebook. Sometimes it’s information off a sign, sometimes off packaging in traditional grocery stores — because let’s face it: I shop there too. Then I get home, do my internet research and figure out where to go from there. I’ve also used Local Harvest with some success, but that’s a story for another time.
How about you? How did you find your food sources? Any tips you’d like to share?