The plethora of Farmer’s Markets in the Los Angeles Area is the one of the first steps you can take towards eating locally and organically. Other than farm fresh fruits and vegetables, Farmer’s Markets also provide fresh inspiration for cooking and help forge new connections in the community. Without a doubt, Farmer’s Markets are fabulous—but what’s the next step? Do yourself, and the environment, a favor by trying one of the following steps towards a more sustainable, satisfying lifestyle:
1. Join a CSA
Like to try new foods and conquer new recipes? Try a community supported agriculture (CSA) share from the numerous local farms. With a multitude of suppliers in the LA area, options are flexible depending on your needs (size and frequency of order) and location. Easy pick-up locations, or even home delivery, make this option simple, speedy, and inspiring—the ever-changing rotations of seasonal produce may encourage you to be courageous and creative in the kitchen! Check out localharvest.org to find the perfect CSA share for you, or ask your favorite vendor at the Farmer’s Market if they have shares. Choose the best CSA for you at localharvest.org.
2. Buy the Cow
Instead of buying just one grass-fed beef burger, why not buy the whole cow? Or lamb, or pig? Small farms are increasing selling “animal shares,” an entire of whole portion of an animal that you can buy, the farm raises, processes, has USDA inspected, and packages, then you eat! If you’re committed to eating locally raised meat but also on a budget, buying an animal share is usually only $3-5 per pound, depending on the animal and amount. Just make sure you have ample freezer space, or take on the ownership with a friend or neighbor if the idea of buying Bessie seems daunting! Find a local farm where you can directly buy meat at localharvest.org.
3. Start a Kitchen Garden
Frustrated when you just need a pinch of fresh mint, but have to drive to the grocery store to get a whole pricey bunch? A small kitchen garden is a great way to supplement your trips to the store, and ensure organic freshness for pennies. From a pot of herbs on your windowsill to a bed of chard and tomatoes planted in organic soil supplemented with homemade organic compost, there are no boundaries to planting your own garden—except for the fence around your yard. Learn how to start a thriving garden at gardeners.com or seedsofchange.com.
4. Join a Community Garden
No room in the backyard for a garden? No backyard? Join a community garden to sustainably (and deliciously) get involved in your community. Ranging from small beds to many acres, there are 70 community gardens are growing in Los Angles County that serve over 3,900 families. Some plots are worked individually, while other gardens are worked collectively. Regardless of how the garden is run, this option facilitates cooperation and neighborhood sustainability, alleviates global warming and benefits the LA River and Ballona Creek watersheds. Oh, and it’s tasty. To find a nearby garden to join, visit lagardencouncil.org.
5. Pick your Own
Looking for a sustainable social activity? Grab some foodie friends and head to a local pick-your-own farm. Gather peaches, berries, citrus, and more to make fresh salads, preserve as jam, or eat right off the tree. Find a farm near you at pickyourown.org/CAla.htm, or localharvest.org.
–Abby Gould, Sage Wellness Intern
Adapted from Eating Well In Season: The Farmer’s Market Cookbook, by Jessie Price