FEAST FOR FREEDOM
Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Gluten Free

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Categories: Finding Quality Ingredients    

When you're trying to improve your diet, it can take a while to get used to new shopping habits.

One of the best resources are small farmers and small producers within your local area. Even if you're in a city there's always some sort of farmland outside of the city proper.

Fresh peach on a peach tree
Image by: Alicja

What You'll Find:

The core basics will be found just about everywhere, such as beef, chicken, local fruits and veggies, and dairy.

Each area will have its own unique feel and unique products. If you haven't shopped much with a focus on local farmers you may not even realize what amazing local foods are available.

Specialty Fresh Prepared Goods:

One of the biggest secrets is that a lot of prepared products can be found from local producers, such as canned fruit, jams, pickles, pickled and smoked meats, specialty dairy products, baked goods, etc.

These types of products generally can't be sold in large chain grocery stores, but can be sold either directly or at farmers markets.

This is a fantastic way to get some variety that you otherwise wouldn't be able to have unless you learned how to make all these items yourself. The reality is you probably couldn't even think of all the things that you can find this way.

These producers are generally very open about how they make and what's in their fresh and prepared products so you can find a nice variety of goods that fits your eating style.

When you visit farmers markets regularly, or visit a variety of farms, you'll get to know who you like better, and who has the best of some particular items.

When you visit them, ask them if they also provide some sort of delivery service to where you live, or if they sell out of a store near where you live. You'll be surprised that many of them will have this kind of service. Once you get to know them better sometimes you just need to call them direct and you can get them to bring you some supplies when they come to town, or you can plan a trip and stop at several in a single day.

Shop Seasonally:

You'll notice that different produce and different prepared goods are available at different times of the year. In general they will make prepared goods when the ingredients are fresh. You'll get individual jams around the harvest season for that particular fruit. You'll get cucumber pickles when cucumbers are ready. The same goes for all seasons of the year. There is also usually a best time of the year to get each kind of meat, or a smaller time line than the whole year.

For example, beef is generally better, when you're looking for grass fed, in the fall, because the cows have been on fresh grass all summer from the pasture land.

Chicken will be better, when they're raised on an open type farm, when they have access to nice open space, rather than in the middle of the winter when they're not going outdoors because it's too cold.

Each farmer can tell you more about the best seasons for their particular farm.

Picked at the Peak of Ripeness:

Farm produce is also much fresher, often picked the same morning or the day before. It's generally picked at the peak of ripeness. Fruit and veggies will always taste better when it's picked ready to use. Produce shipped in from long distances must be picked well before they're ready to use, and simply won't ripen with the same superior flavor you'll get from local farm fresh food.

The variety of different types of the same individual items will be much greater. Many will have old family lines of fruits and veggies that you simply won't find anywhere else.

Friendly Faces:

One of the best things about shopping from locals producers, when you get to deal with them directly, is that the whole experience is much more friendly. They're generally pleased to see everyone. Even the other customers, at something like a farmers market, are friendlier, especially when they've been visiting regularly or are from the country. Over time you'll find that you can find lots of other things you'd never realized when you start talking to people. There will be golden gems you never knew existed.

Once you get a bit of a relationship, and visit regularly, and if you're also genuinely friendly, you'll start getting special treatment. They'll choose fresher produce for you, dig out a very special limited edition product that isn't on the shelves, and let you know about something special coming up.

Buying directly from farmers and cutting out the middleman also supports the actual growers, and families within your area. These farmers are vital to keep some of the food production local, and when they work on the land and deal directly with their customers, they take much more pride in delivering quality food. They know the land and their know their customers.

Take a Trip to the Country:

Take some time to find some local farms, and take your family or a close friend on regular trips out to get some amazing fresh food. You're bound to find some hidden gems out in your own local area.

For more tips and ideas on getting back to a more whole food diet, be sure to check out our Kick It Up section.

Explore, eat and enjoy!

Thora

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