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Extension > Local Extension Offices > Stearns > County Horticulture Educator > Articles > Buying Locally Grown Food

Buying Locally Grown Food

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
June 24, 2015

Source:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties


Buying Locally Grown Food
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (6/24/15) — Over the past few years, there has been a steady incline of interest in purchasing and consuming foods that were grown locally.  Individual’s may choose to purchase locally grown food for many reasons, including wanting the freshest or best tasting food, nearly eliminating time and travel from farm to fork, and supporting local economy.

A popular way for individual’s to get fresh produce, meat, or other food from local farmers is through a CSA. A CSA is community supported agriculture; the USDA defines CSA as a “community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production.”  CSA’s have steadily been growing in popularity in the United States since the mid-1980’s. CSA’s originated in Switzerland and Japan in the 1960’s. Today, Minnesota Grown Directory currently lists 93 CSA’s across the state. 

How does a CSA work? The farmer will pre-sell set shares for the upcoming growing season to interested parties. Typically the growing season in Minnesota will be June through October, however some farmers will extend seasons with the use of high tunnels. Members who bought shares will receive weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly delivery of seasonal mixed produce.  Produce will vary depending on the current season and what crop is ready for harvest on the farm.

Other ways to purchase locally grown foods are to visit farmer’s markets. Many communities have established markets that convene weekly if not more frequently.  If you have never attended a farmer’s market make note of when and where they take place and simply stop by to visit with the growers and determine what produce, eggs, meat, or other foods they currently have available or will soon have available.

If stopping into a farmers market or joining a CSA does not interest you there are still other ways to purchase locally grown food. Roadside stands have been a thing of the countryside for decades.  Finally a simple way is to look at your local grocery store. Look for signs or stickers indicating “Minnesota Grown” or locally grown. 

To find local growers visit the Minnesota Grown website www.minnesotagrown.com, visit your local farmers markets, or roadside stands.

Contacts

Beth Berlin
Extension Educator, Horticulture
(320) 255-6169
adam0062@umn.edu
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