As I write this, I wonder if I even have the right. I certainly shop at Wegmans regularly, buying the ingredients that fit my budget and with little to no awareness of where in the world the foods come from. So, to be clear, this is not an article about how I eat local and how you should too. It's about how we can grow to be more local consumers together in a very practical sense.
I'm the type of person who likes to know why I should do something. That I should do it is just not enough for me. I began to research "eating local" and the reasons I found were pretty obvious and, of course, important. Eating local protects the environment, protects the consumer, supports local and rural economies, protects animal welfare, and is more nutritious.
But, the one reason to eat local that actually inspires me is: eating local is more delicious!
Just consider these scenarios:
Your boyfriend is going to cook you dinner (haha) and he asks, "Honey, which would you rather I make? Local organic fingerling potatoes covered in locally churned sweet butter and fresh local herbs, a local grass-fed beef roast, and roasted local carrots drizzled with local maple syrup or Hamburger Helper?" Duh.
Or the morning after a late night out he says, "You are so beautiful and special, I am going to make you breakfast. I can do toasted locally baked bread made from whole grains grown by local farmers with local chevre and local fruit jam with a locally roasted espresso cappuccino made with local raw milk from grass-fed cows or a bowl of Frosted Flakes with milk and drip coffee with cream powder. Which one?" Um, of course.
Lucky for us, it is very easy to eat local in Buffalo. Western New York is blessed with a wealth of small artisanal farmers. Over the years, these farmers, along with new urban pioneers, are bringing local to our city. In Buffalo there a plethora of vendors sourcing local meats, veggies, fruits, preserves, honey, maple syrup, and dairy products like milk, cheese, and eggs. Here are a few that I am willing and ready to try out:
Five Points Bakery : Located on Brayton Street on the lower West Side is a bakery and toast café that can really boost your locavore points. Five Points makes whole grain breads and pastry from wheat, milk, butter, and eggs sourced locally. When the bread is baked and toasted up for us to enjoy, they slather it with the finest local sustainable jams, honey, fruits, maple syrup, and cheeses. For those who are sensitive to wheat, Five Points soaks the flour for a full day to improve the digestibility of the grains.
Teacup Farm : Teacup Farm is a NYS Permitted Raw Milk Dairy and Grade A Creamery. Score raw and pasteurized cow and goat milk, eggs, chevre, cheese curds, and yogurt from cows and goats that have actual names like Echo and Big Mamma. The milk used in these products is low-temperature-pasteurized which protects the natural and beneficial enzymes and nutrients within. These help make the products highly digestible, a quality not seen often enough in retail products.
Public Espresso + Coffee: Of course we can’t expect our coffee beans to be grown locally, so how can we still be local in our coffee choices? One way is to consume caffeine from beans that are at least roasted here in the city. Public Espresso + Coffee is a small batch roaster located in the Hotel @ Lafayette downtown. The beans are sold by the pound and include varieties like Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and some custom blends, like one called the Revolution Blend. When you pick up some beans, grab a breakfast or lunch that uses fresh local market ingredients and local partnerships with local bakers. Their flagship roastery is expected to open on Grant Street in 2017.
Akron Poultry: Akron Poultry makes eating local easy because they deliver right to your home! This family farm has one of the most interesting histories I have ever encountered. After living in war-torn Europe during WWI, Hans Mideke vowed to never allow his family to go hungry. So, what do you do to ensure this? Start a farm, of course. Generations later, Akron Poultry Farm is providing us with eggs, butter, whole chickens and breasts, chicken sausage, ground turkey, seasonal produce, orange blossom honey, cottage cheese, and swiss, cheddar, muenster cheeses.
Elmwood Village Farmers Market: Acclaimed as one of the best farmers markets in Western New York, this is a mandatory stop on our locavore quest. A producer-only market, the vendora sell only their own products; there is no middle man here. Located on Bidwell Parkway in the Elmwood Village, the market is open every Saturday in the spring, summer and fall. Just a few of the many local products you can find here are organic goat’s milk, health and beauty products from Belleview Farm, fresh cut flowers from Dan Tower Farm, beeswax candles from Darling Bee, and all natural, preservative-free home-made ravioli and sauces from the Pasta Peddler.
Breadhive: The Breadhive is a worker-owned bakery and café at 402 Connecticut Street. The breads are made using a long ferment sourdough process with organic whole grain flour milled in nearby Central NY at Farmer Ground Flour in combination with other high quality flour. They incorporate local produce to get color and flavor into the bread. What is truly amazing about the Breadhive is that they have a bread share, which they call the Crust Belt. You can get a loaf of Breadhive bread every week for 6 months or a year, or seven bagels or a pound of granola each week for a month, six months, or a year. There is also a rotating share: one week bagels, one week granola, and one week fresh bread.
Meat Suite: The Meat Suite is an online tool that locates high quality meat products grown by local farmers. Enter your zip code and find area farmers that can help you with your locavore pursuits. Meat Suite farmers sell their meat in bulk so it is helpful to go in with another family and/or to have a deep storage freezer at home. The meat selection is amazing: pork, turkey, beef, chicken, lamb, bison, rabbit, and duck!
Promised Land CSA: Promised Land CSA is a family farm that spans Darien, Alden, and Corfu with a rich history that goes back four generations-even the grandchildren are involved! There is a winter share that provides beets, carrots, squash, potatoes, kale, lettuce, spinach and other root veggies from November to April. Try the local honey kept by a beekeeper, and in the spring be sure to get some fresh maple syrup. The Ole family also raises happy cows fed on organic grass and hay with no hormones or antibiotics, and sometimes the meat is offered to members of the CSA. There is a city pick-up at the Massachusetts Avenue Project on Grant Street.
Becker Farms: In addition to a traditional fruit and veggie CSA (mostly during spring) you can add to your order fresh homemade baked goods, jams, and fudge. And Becker Farms also has its own brewing company! Becker Farms is a great place to visit and pick your own fruits and veggies in season. While you are there, stop by the Farm Store and Bakery and pick up local delicacies. Becker Farms is also a great place to hold special events, like weddings. With their field to table approach they create catered experiences serving items grown and picked for the occasion right from the farm or brought in from other local growers within a 100-mile radius.
So, what's stopping us from eating local more often?
Cost. Budgets are tight nowadays, but could it be that eating this way can actually cost the same or even less? Pay attention and keep track of how much you spend at the grocery store on items like these. Then contact some of the featured producers and compare costs. Maybe it is even worth paying a little extra if this is something important to you. That’s what I’m going to do.
Time. Do I have time to go pick up my produce share, order fresh eggs and cheese to be delivered, pick up raw milk, shop online to find a local meet farmer, pick up my bread share, and get my beans from the roaster? Probably not, but what if I worked something out with my friends and family and my mom picked up our CSA shares, and my husband picked up the beans on his lunch break from work, and if my girlfriends and I rotated going out to get our raw milk and cheese? If becoming a locavore is a movement, then it is going to take a whole community.
Be reasonable. Start slowly, but start somewhere. Talk to family and friends about the idea, share this post. Pick one thing, one new way of living, and see where it takes you. We have a way of creating new habits out of things that at one time seemed impossible.