Recently we’ve been thinking about how to foster healthy community development in our day-to-day lives. How can we live with intentionality through a community development lens?
This week were focusing on food. Here’s some tips on how to eat while being mindful of community development:
1. Get to know your farmers. Local farmers have been supplying us with food for centuries and are often long lasting family businesses. They tend to have a deep understanding of place, community and what it takes to grow connections, food and a life in the place they call home. Local farmers have a wealth of knowledge of what grows best and in what seasons. Knowing and supporting your local farmers can also play a part in ensuring they have the demand and availability to stay around for as many generations as possible!
2. Know your local food economy. Not all foods grow in all places at all times of year, despite what the produce section in the grocery store might try to convince you. Find out what types of produce are unique to your community! What are farmers and food sources in your hometown proud of making and growing? What types of produce grow best in your local soil? Try and create meals that utilize the things your local farmers and gardeners grow best and most often, and you will be an important part of the supply and demand that keeps local agriculture business afloat.
3. Visit the farmers market / food coops. While we know these alternatives to your typical grocery shopping can be more costly, we also think it’s worth it. Local produce is fresher, lasts longer and tastes better than grocery store produce, and it’s also not pumped full of chemicals that out of season produce needs to stay fresh on the journey to the grocery aisle. Farmers markets are also a great source of community engagement, bringing the community together and familiarizing you with other local businesses and food sources! And of course, shopping locally at farmers markets and food coops is a great way to boost your local economy.
4. Know your local brands. Who are your local food champions? Why did they choose to claim your town as their town? Nothing builds place-based pride quite like seeing beer from a local brewery, treats from a local bakery or jams from a local farm on the shelves of stores around you. Local brands typically have very unique stories as to how their company was built and why. These give us a sense of joy and attachment to the food we eat and the products we use, knowing and feeling the same love for a place that the makers behind the products feel.
5. Know your farm to table restaurants. Who supports your farmers already? Who takes the raw assets of your community and adds value to them by bringing them together? If you don’t know which of your local restaurants are farm to table, look up menus online before deciding where to go out to eat, or even call and ask! It’s awesome when local business owners work together to support each other. Local farmers know their community and take good care of the businesses they supply to and the people that share their home. Local food almost always tastes better and eating local putts dollars right back into your local economy. By eating at a farm to table restaurant, you are supporting your neighbor in the most delicious way!
There is such community ties and connections formed around food. Families are built and celebrated and mourned around the kitchen table. Friends comes together at a restaurant to toast to new life happenings. Food can be nourishing biologically and communally. So go, be conscious of the beautify in your local food economy, support those who make it happen and promote it in your circles. Have a story from your local food economy? We would love to hear it!