Yes! You do not have to purchase your foods in a grocery store. And you are not limited to what is available at the local farmer's market (although farmer's markets are wonderful places to purchase locally produced food!). You can find a farmer through a website like Local Harvest and Buy Fresh Buy Local, make an appointment to visit them, ask all about the products you're purchasing and even see where it is grown.
For some people, this is a completely foreign concept. For them, it is incomprehensible that the grocery store is unnecessary.
But it is completely irrelevant if you want to purchase local produce, herbs, meats, breads and dairy products. As long as you are willing to do the research and spend a little time hunting out your sources, you can say good bye to most products purchased at a grocery store and get them from a local farmer or producer.
What to Expect
- Expect to make an appointment and keep it. Farms are busy places. Many farmers work full or part time jobs along with farming so always keep your appointment or call to let them know if you can't.
- Expect to have your questions answered. Ask anything! It's the only way you'll know if the product is something you truly want to purchase. And farmers take pride in their work and love to talk about their farms.
- Expect your purchases to cost more than grocery store products. This is probably the most under-anticipated expectation for consumers when purchasing direct from a farm. There are a thousand reasons as to why the product costs more. A few - the cost of feed for the animals, time and labor, fresh, (usually) untreated products that are not picked before they are ripe and then artificially ripened with chemicals, processing costs for meat products that require USDA inspection, farm mortgage, equipment costs, organic certification costs.... Farmers shoulder a lot of up-front costs.
- Expect to purchase a higher quality product than what you will find in a grocery store. If it's not superior to the grocery store, say something! Let the farmer know! He'll either huff and puff or he'll take the constructive criticism under advisement and try to do better.
- Expect a glimpse into what real, small family farming - not factory farming - is all about.
We are not a grocery store. We're just a small farm, working hard to provide good quality products. Greg spent most of last week hand butchering and processing Cornish hens. In the end, we had birds that could sit on any grocery store shelf and compete with Tyson, Perdue and the others. But wow! What a difference in the quality and care that went into those birds from the day they hatched until we shut the freezer door on them.
Go find a farmer. Talk to them. Buy from them. Let them share their passion with you.