When I tell people that the majority of my produce comes from local sources, I get a lot of strange looks. Many people, in my experience, believe locally sourced food is expensive, difficult to access, and unnecessary. While it’s true that only about half of my groceries come from within four-hundred miles of my NYC apartment, my food purchased from local growers or bakers is consistently fresher and more richly flavored. I know that the produce is packed with nutrients and free from harmful chemicals. I know that most of the breads lack excessive sugars and dyes. And guess what? I’ve actually saved money by eating locally.
When I know where my food comes from, I find that I enjoy the food I eat. Here are four simple and unexpected ways you can enjoy local food, too!
Shop at a Farmers’ Market
The City’s extensive collection of farmers’ markets has become my favorite way to eat locally. Most booths have cooking demonstrations and are happy to let you sample before buying. I also like to ask those working the booths what they recommend and how to best use their foods. No one knows the produce and baked goods better than those who made them! When I go with an open mind and a flexible shopping list, I always leave with something new. Find a list of the farmers’ markets I trust most in the City here!
Join a CSA
CSA, or Community-Supported Agriculture, programs connect consumers directly with farmers. Here’s how it works. Locals buy a monthly, annual, or seasonal memberships to a farm or co-op, and received a box of fruits, vegetables, bread, and honey each week. While most CSA programs do not allow customers to choose what comes to their door each week, locals with an open mind receive a variety of seasonal goods for a fraction of the price. If you’re blessed with adventurous taste buds, I highly recommend trying a CSA program near you! For a list of just a handful of NYC’s trusted CSA programs, check out my recent post here.
Visit a Farm
When most people think of New York City, they don’t think about rows of sprawling greens on rooftops overlooking the infamous Brooklyn Bridge. They don’t think of locals harvesting honey or a lavender farm only a bus ride away. At least, I certainly did not. However, all this and more exists within the five boroughs. During season farms like Brooklyn Grange, Gotham Greens, and Lavender by the Bay allow customers to purchase food directly from the land. Talk about cutting out the middle-man!
Check Out Local Restaurants
That’s right, eating local does not always require a long list of ingredients and hours in the kitchen. As a major foodie, one of my favorite things to do in New York City is to share a meal with friends. Many times, sharing a meal means going out. I have been surprised at the number of restaurants using local fruits, veggies, bread, and even meats. Two of my favorite restaurants, Sweetgreen and Dig Inn, are committed to using only seasonal ingredients sourced locally. My favorite bakery, Hot Bread Kitchen, is housed in Harlem and brings global foods in a local way. The bakery employs immigrants to bake their traditional treats using local ingredients for local New Yorkers. Keep an eye out and I promise than you will find more restaurants supporting the local food movement than you might expect. Check out a few of my favorites here!