Here’s how to find summer’s bounty even if you live in the city.

As summer approaches, the season of fresh fruits and veggies does too. Whether you’re a resident of farm country or you’re living it up in the big city, getting fresh, in-season fruits and veggies can be easy and accessible for all. There are also things you can do to ensure you’re getting the freshest fruits and veggies at the right price.

Below are some things to look for or keep in mind when you’re on the hunt for your bounty.

Farmer’s Market Tips:

  • Almost every town has one or several farmer’s market options. A quick Google search can usually reveal the time and location of the market in your area. Farmers markets have fruits and vegetables at the peak of the growing season. This means produce is at its freshest and tastes the best. The food is typically grown near where you live, not thousands of miles away or in another country. Shopping at farmers markets also supports your local farmers and keeps the money you spend on food closer to your neighborhood.
  • Remember, not everything you find at a farmer’s market is certified organic. Look for the certification sign to be sure, and pay special attention to Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables, which should be avoided if not organic.
  • Don’t be bothered by superficial blemishes. Over a third of our nation’s food supply is thrown away because it’s not pretty enough. Instead, ask for a discount. It will still taste the same.
  • Many farmers don’t supply bags, so be sure to BYOB (bring your own bag) to markets.

Community supported agriculture (CSA) is another great way to receive local, seasonal produce directly from a farmer. CSA farmers allow consumers to buy memberships or subscriptions that entitle them to a share of farm-fresh produce regularly throughout the farming season. Typically a CSA box or bag includes mainly vegetables or fruits, but farmers may offer other products as well.

CSA Tips:

  • Visit the LocalHarvest website and find a CSA near you. The organization’s database contains over 30,000 family farms, farmers markets and even restaurants that serve local food.
  • Communicate with your farmer. Sometimes a farmer will offer variations on offerings to interested patrons, which may include the option to buy shares of eggs, homemade bread, meat, cheese, fruit, flowers or other farm products.

Grocery delivery has expanded to include meat, seafood, milk and other staples that are better fresh. Companies like Greensbury, Top O’ the Morn Farms and Farm to Home Milk are just a few organizations that are beginning to offer delivery of farm-fresh products straight to your home. Typically, these organizations source their products right from American farms instead of overseas growers, like many big box grocery chains do. 

Fresh for Your Grill and Breakfast Table—Tips:

  • A quick Google search will pull up a laundry list of local meat farmers that deliver their products to your door with minimal effort from you. Occasionally, they will ask that you leave a cooler with ice outside your door, but this only further reduces your cost for the product. You can get any cut of meat you can think of, including fresh hot dogs.
  • Through LocalHarvest, you can also source farm-fresh eggs. The selection includes not just chicken eggs but also duck, quail and goose eggs. LocalHarvest offers free, expedited shipping too.

At the end of the day, it’s about enjoying real food, grown by the people in your community. It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or a small town. The resources to develop strong local economies and enjoy meals together are what make the local-food movement such an inspiration.

The Dirty Dozen

Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases the Dirty Dozen, a list of produce that contains the highest concentration of pesticides. Consumers should always try to purchase organically grown varieties of these items to reduce exposure:

• Strawberries
• Spinach
• Nectarines
• Apples
• Peaches
• Pears
• Cherries
• Grapes
• Celery
• Tomatoes
• Sweet Bell Peppers
• Potatoes

Photo credit: Dallas Events, Shutterstock