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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Find Your Farmers : 4 Best Web Tools to Help You Eat Local


You've heard it—possibly ad nauseum by now—all the different ways to eat or buy locally grown seasonal food. At the risk of offending those that have been "eating green and local" for years, here's a quick hit list of the four best web tools for the rest of us scrambling to catch up—sourcing seasonal and local food from the luxury of your computer keyboard to your kitchen table.

1. Map Your Course of Action: Get started by figuring out your own 100 mile food radius with a handy mapping tool provided by those 100 Mile Diet authors we know and love and our fabulous Daily Green bloggers, Alisa Smith and James MacKinnon. Even if the 100-mile limitation is too hard for you to accomplish, it will, at the very least, give you a starting point.

2. Find Your Farmers, Family Farms, Community Supported Agriculture Programs (CSAs), and Food Co-ops: LocalHarvest.org offers up multiple ways to find organic seasonal foods that are closest to you. It also lists those places that specialize in delivering organic foods to your doorstep. Now, if they could send along a chef with that CSA delivery every month... The Rodale Institute also has an all-inclusive Farm Locator that links consumers to farms, farmer-to-farmer, farmers to retailers and restaurants, and farmers/retailers to commercial buyers—whew.

3. Find a Restaurant that Sources Only Local Foods: If you're not sure if those grapes you're eating have sailed from Chile to California and then trucked their way to your favorite downtown eatery (if it's in Des Moines, IA, that's about 7,270 food miles by the way)—check out the Eat Well Guide. You can plug in your zip code and search within a 200-mile radius for the choicest "local as local gets" good eats establishments.

4. Find Your Inner Farmer: Just picked tomatoes in the month of December in upstate New York? Perfectly doable. If the green growing spirit really moves you and you're a little more hard core, think about investing in a solar green house. Simply Solar Greenhouses out of Bell City, Montana sells sustainable greenhouses, and their website gives well thought out advice and tips on how to heat that greenhouse without the aid of gas, oil, or coal.

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