It’s summertime and locavore living is easy. Just like in years past, an abundance of locally grown and produced food can be found at Farmer’s Markets, food co-ops, or through membership in a CSA. What’s new is that traditional supermarkets are sourcing an increasing amount of local fruits and vegetables and proudly installing farm stands in their produce departments. This appeals to shoppers who want to shop local, but value convenience most. Shoppers, farmers, and supermarkets all benefit from this budding relationship.
Local food is food for sale that is grown or produced close to where you live. But how close exactly? It depends on who you ask. There is no legal or universally accepted definition. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not established a distance to define what is considered local, but a set number of miles from a center point or state/local boundaries is often used. However, in a report to congress the USDA defined foods produced and sold within a state boundary or 400-mile radius as local.
July is a great time to buy more locally grown fruits and vegetables since there are so many options to choose from. In addition to peak freshness, which extends shelf life, you also get the greatest nutritional value and best price. Most fresh fruits and vegetables earn 2-3 Guiding Stars. Here are some commonly grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs paired with our star-earning recipes. Give these recipes a try this summer and be sure to use local ingredients to support your local farmers and growers.
With some produce, the difference in taste of fresh, local produce is more noticeable. Tomatoes are a perfect example. During our lingering Maine winters, I long for fresh, locally grown tomatoes.
If you live in the northeast, early July means peak season for strawberry picking. I can’t wait to bring my son to our local pick-your-own strawberry farm this year. Something tells me I will need to check his pockets as we exit the patch.
This salad tastes like pure, summer excellence.View recipe »
You can find fresh, local beets beginning in mid-summer and continuing all the way through the fall. You can eat the roots, stems, and leaves of beets. In addition to their beautiful color and sweet flavor, they are incredibly versatile in the kitchen. Enjoy them raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, sautéed, or even made into chips.
My wife is from the Midwest, so I think I’m legally obligated to include corn here. Have you heard of the old farming adage “knee-high by the Fourth of July”? Years ago, this growth benchmark signaled a good corn crop. Due to advancements in agriculture, growing techniques, and disease and pest control, that figure has been surpassed.
Have you ever grown your own basil? It can be grown in a container on your deck, patio, or stoop. Just be sure to water if there is no rain. If you don’t have a green thumb, it’s much more affordable to buy fresh basil this time of year. It should keep for about a week. You can also puree basil with olive oil and freeze in ice cube trays for future use.
Maine blueberries are famous, but they are grown in other states too. Have you ever seen blueberry barrens? These rolling plains of sandy soil are where wild, low-bush blueberries are grown. In the fall, the leaves on blueberry bushes first turn a dark crimson color, then explode into beautiful hues of red and purple. It’s a sight to see.