Finding the Good Stuff: Great Places to Find Local, Sustainable, Organic Food

| November 8, 2012 | 6 Comments

It’s one thing to talk about eating local, sustainable, organic food, but another to have time to hunt for it and buy it. In a lot of places, finding good, real food in the grocery store is like pulling teeth. Molars. On a recent trip to my local chain grocery store’s meat, cheese, and produce departments I calculated that fewer than 5% of the products offered for sale came from my own state, and Colorado isn’t exactly an agricultural desert. Even in the faux-chalet fancy cheese display, there were only 10 local brands among the roughly 200 options available.

Although activists and activist-wannabes always recommend that you “Demand it from your store and make them stock what you want,” (and on paper, that’s great advice) when I’m in a hurry to get some calories in my belly I don’t feel like fighting with the deli lady about getting me some goat cheese that hasn’t come from 1000 miles away. Here are some less in-your-face ways to find out where to get foods that are local, organic, sustainably-raised, grass-fed—whatever your preference is.

But one caveat: Before you go on a quest, consider how you’ll keep track of what you find. (I can’t even count the number of times I’ve stumbled on an awesome wine, cheese, furniture-maker, or nifty green gadget that would forever change my life and promised myself I’d remember to go back and check it out later. Uh, yeah.) Use Evernote, use a mobile app, use a cheapo notebook from the dollar store, but try to keep track when & where you find something you really love, so you can go back and find it again.

So, now that I’ve said that, here are some good ways to source local/organic/sustainable foods wherever you are:

  • Visit the biggest farmers’ market, street market, fresh market, or other uber-fresh food source in your area during the summer. Meet the people selling the things you like to eat. Sample them. See if you like them (either the people or the food or, ideally, both). Jot down their name/number or take a brochure.
  • Try a a mobile app. The Eat Local, Locavore, InBloom, Clean Plates and Greenmarkets Buddy are great places to start.
  • Check out the web site of your state or county’s Agriculture Department. Many of them are now on the locavore bandwagon and now track and promote local food producers with a brochure, database, or guide.
  • Google, Facebook, and even Craigslist are your friends. Even better, the web now has several really terrific directory/search engines that help you find exactly what you want:

Local Harvest
http://localharvest.org

Founded in 1998, LocalHarvest has become the most popular online organic/local food directory in the U.S. (see below for international guides) In addition to usual categories of family farms, CSAs, farmers’ markets and restaurants, LH is a great place to also find meat producers and other small family-run business near you that you might not ever know about. For example, in testing their search engine I just discovered a source for organic eggs less than a mile from our home. Who knew?

Eat Well Guide
http://eatwellguide.org

Eat Well Guide’s free online directory of local, organic & sustainable listings includes family farms, restaurants, farmers’ markets, grocery stores, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, U-pick orchards and more in the United States and Canada. It’s searchable by location (zip code or city/state/province), by keyword, by category or by product to find local food sources. Neat tools include a feature that allows you to save listings in your own online notebook, or use the create-a-guide feature to generate a customized PDF booklet to download and/or share with your friends. For folks wanting to plan a foodie vacation (take me with you!!) you can plan a trip with its cool mapping tool, Eat Well Everywhere.

Farm Plate
http://www.farmplate.com/

FarmPlate bills itself as an online community of farmers, fishermen, foragers, food and drink artisans(?!), restaurants, markets and foodies. In addition to a searchable mammoth directory of the above categories, the site also has the same sort of rating/review star system used by Yelp, all aimed at helping people find food & drink they can feel good about. What I like most about it—and I like everything about it—is that it helps consumers find what they want WHILE boosting the businesses of those producing real, healthy, sustainable food, which makes me very happy.

Eat Wild
http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html

For those who eat meat, EatWild.com is all about animal products. In addition to providing the Eatwild Directory of Farmers, a state-by-state listing of local farms that sell all-natural, grass-fed animal products (and also including some eggs, dairy, seafood, honey, etc.) it’s a very good education in the benefits of raising animals on pasture. Good information here on the health benefits of eating pastured beef/pork/chicken/bison etc., as well as a good description of how it improves the welfare of the animals and the health of the land. Of particular interest is the section on producers who ship.

International Sustainable Eating Guides
http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?id=international

There is no one definitive global resource to find local/sustainable/organic foodstuffs, although most countries have numerous resources similar to the U.S. listings above. Eat Well Guide has provided this nice roundup of resources by continent and country: http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?id=international

 

Looking for something near you, but can’t seem to find it? Maybe I can help. Leave a note below or drop me a line and let me know how it’s going for you.

Also, if you have a line on local/sustainable/organic/real food directories from other parts of the globe, I’m all ears!

 

 

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Category: Food, Local, Organic, Products (Green and hedonistic), Sustainable, Useful Stuff

Comments (6)

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  1. Holly says:

    I found a gem just down the street from me–in the FAR East Valley way outside Phoenix, Arizona. Queen Creek Olive Mill, a sustainable olive farm and gourmet/organic eatery and market.

    The farm grows their own olives, makes and sells multiple flavors of olive oil and vinegars. They have hourly tours, free olive oil and vinegar tasting, a gourmet market, with wine, coffees, olives and other gourmet offerings that rival my peanut-butter and jelly cooking skills.

    The “Tuscan inspired eatery featuring local and organic products”
    offers breakfast and lunch with an eclectic mix of frita, panini sandwiches, salads and gelato. Arizona style pizza is available on Friday and Saturday night (I’m not sure what constitutes an Arizona style pizza, but I will be trying one soon) along with music and dancing!

    The Olive Mill is located off Combs Rd just East of Rittenhouse Rd. in the San Tan Valley. It’s considered a “destination site” for Phoenix residents and it’s less than a mile away! Wow! What a find.

    The Olive Mill
    25062 S. Meridian Road
    Queen Creek, AZ 85142

    http://queencreekolivemill.com/

    • greenhedonist says:

      Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to try it next time I’m in Arizona. I’m a big olive lover, and this place sounds right up my alley. Thanks so much for sharing it!!

  2. Hello from Puttytribe! Thanks for all the great resources. I had only heard of Local Harvest before, but not the others.

    Here’s another resource a friend just made me aware of: http://bountifulbaskets.org/, Bountiful Baskets. They have this program in many places around the US, and I was surprised to hear they are in my small town of Sierra Vista, AZ. It’s basically a Co-op and they source food from independent and local farms to bring to members each week. In their words: “Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op is a participatory experience. Participants all save a substantial amount of money on healthy food. In exchange there are no employees to guide participants through the experience.”

    I’ll have to check out the place in Queen Creek next time I’m up that way!

    Take care!
    Kimberly

    • greenhedonist says:

      Thanks, Kimberly! What a neat concept. I wonder if our climate here (Colorado) prevents us from having something similar….I’ll be looking around.

      I love your web site, too. It made me smile all over — thanks for being out there!

  3. Terese says:

    My company, Topline Foods (www.toplinefoods.com) offers organic grass fed beef, organic free range chicken, wild caught seafood, pasture raised pork and more. No antibiotics, added hormones, additives or chemicals and we source from family farms who serve their local communities. Shopping online is easy and we deliver to your door. Shipping rates are very affordable, especially in Arizona and the western U.S. Give us a look! Thanks!

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