A few steps on the road of health

Published 6:00 pm Saturday, July 30, 2011

By Heidi Harrabi

Austin Area Farmer’s Market

Last week I wrote about the reasons why people become locavores. Many people have an interest in including more local foods in their diet, but are unsure of the steps to take to do so.

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Here are just a few things that you can do to set you on the road to becoming a locavore, eating healthier and supporting local farmers and your community.

1) Shop at your local farmers market. Don’t just think locally grown, how about locally produced? The Austin Area Farmers Market has locally produced jams, jellies, breads, salsa, pickles and even honey.

2) Lobby your supermarket. Ask your supermarket manager where your meat, produce and dairy is coming from.

3) Choose five foods in your house that you can buy locally. Rather than trying to source everything locally all at once, try swapping out just five local foods. Fruits and vegetables that can be grown throughout the continental U.S. include apples, root vegetables, lettuce, herbs and greens.

In most areas, it’s also possible to find meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and cheese — all grown, harvested and produced close to your home.

4) Find a local CSA and sign-up. Through a CSA — Community Supported Agriculture—program you invest in a local farm in exchange for a weekly box of assorted vegetables and other farm products.

5) Preserve a local food for the winter. Try your hand at making applesauce, apple butter or tomato sauce.

6) Find out what restaurants in your area support local farmers. You can do this by asking the restaurants about their ingredients directly or by asking your favorite farmers what restaurant accounts they have.

7) Ask about origins. Not locally grown? Then where is it from?

Call the producer of your favorite foods to see where the ingredients are from. You’ll be amazed how many large processed food companies are unable to tell you where your food came from. By continuing to ask the questions we are sending a message to the companies that consumers want to know the origin of ingredients.

8) Visit a farm. Find a farm in your area and call to make an appointment to see the farm. When time allows, the farmers are usually happy to show a family or a group around the farm. When you visit, ask the farmers what challenges they have had and why they choose to grow what they are growing. Be sure to take the kids along on this journey.

Children need to know where their food is coming from in order to feel a sense of connection to their dinner.

Participate in the Eat Local challenge. Try to eat at least five foods bought locally for one month.

The market is open Mondays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Oak Park Mall, Thursdays from 3:30 to 6 p.m. downtown, on First Street NE, just east of the Law Enforcement Center, and Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Oak Park Mall. All major credit cards and EBT accepted.

Locavore information adapted from: www.pbs.org