Organic farms are becoming an increasingly popular place for the health conscious to buy their food. Eating food produce sold by organic farms boosts the local economy, reduces a carbon footprint and means eating healthier, seasonal foods. However, finding working farms specializing in organics sometimes proves a challenge, especially for people new to the organic game.
There are several ways people looking for organic produce, meats, and dairy products can find nearby farms, no matter where they live or how experienced they may be.
Start the Search
The Internet is an indispensable tool when it comes to searching for organic farms. A simple search phrase like “organic farms near (town name)” will result in several hits for places using organic farming techniques. The basic search may produce too many results to make sense of.
Another tactic would be to use a farmers market locator. Local Harvest and the U.S. Department of Agriculture both have sites that allow users to conduct national searches. Larger cities or metropolitan areas also often have their own organic farming locators, as well.
Then there’s the old fashioned way: talking to farmers. Attending a few local farmers markets will put you into direct contact with what you want.
A little networking and some web browsing can go a long way, so get started!
Pick a Farm
With the increase in popularity of organic farming, more and more farms have begun to respond to the demand for organic produce. There may be numerous farms or farmers market in any given area and the savvy consumer will need to know how to choose the best one for their needs.
Shoppers should start by visiting one market at a time. Before buying anything, tour the market to see what produce is currently available. Take note of prices and the quality of the produce. Also take note of how the vendors interact with shoppers. Do they offer information freely and seek to educate consumers? Will they let shoppers sample the produce?
Then, buy the same kind of produce from three or four different vendors to try later at home to evaluate quality. Tasting the fruits of organic farming is the best way to gauge what farm is the best in the ares.
Time to Shop
For consumers committed to making organic fruits and vegetables a part of their life, they will need to change their shopping expectations slightly. We get used to walking into the grocery store to find a cornucopia of produce any time of the year. However, organic farming doesn’t work the same way.
Shoppers should expect the crops to change seasonally. This represents a change in meal planning as well. Instead of deciding what to eat and then going to the store, organic shoppers must plan meals with the seasonal harvest in mind.
Shoppers should also expect to develop a relationship with their farmer. This will help them know what crops to expect down the road and get tips and advance notice when favorite crops are coming available (if you frequent the location, maybe you can snag a discount!). With time, you will even know when to buy extra produce for the upcoming winter.
Organic farming does have a positive impact on society, the environment and the local economy. Getting acquainted with organic farms and the process takes an investment of time but pays off toward someone’s overall health and well-being. So now is the time for action get searching and get shopping!