By Ashley TenBrink, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student
I have a question for you.
Are you interested in buying ‘real food’, from ‘real farmers’, while embracing your ‘real community?’
I can bet the answer is a definite ‘yes!’
Well then, let me be your guide as we explore how Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate blog can assist you in your search and connect you with the local food that needs to be in your kitchen.
Here at www.fillyourplate.org, Arizonans have easy access to a searchable database of farm products, farmer’s markets, and recipes. By selecting “Find a Farm Product” from either the home page or the sidebar link, you will be able to search for a farmer who carries a specific product, near you. For instance, you could search for “cucumbers” and a list of local Arizona farms would automatically be generated. If instead, you want to find a Farmer’s Market that may carry a variety of produce, select “Find a Farmer’s Market” to access an interactive map. Your search can get even better by selecting “Find Recipes”, where you can choose a popular ingredient, popular category, or search for a recipe that uses a specific food.
How I Used Fill Your Plate to Search for Food Treasures
When I was a little girl, my mom and I would go on mini-adventures and stay-cations together. Every Sunday we would explore the city we lived in and find either a new toy store or a new lunch spot. More recently, we have transitioned our fun to going on food expeditions together! Once a week, we pick a farm or farmer’s market to venture out to. On one such occasion, we used the Fill Your Plate website to find Blue Sky Organic Farm, located in Litchfield Park, Arizona.
I discovered that this family owned and operated farm has been in business since 1994! On our trip to Blue Sky Organic, we had a fantastic afternoon touring the farm, sampling produce and meeting the friendly, knowledgeable staff. Needless to say, we left with a box full of affordable, organic goodies!
It is easy to fall in love with grocery shopping when you get to see where your fruits and veggies are coming from. I will admit, after trying their strawberries and strawberry jam, I was hooked!
The Value of Local Foods
Through organizations like the Arizona Farm Bureau and farms like Blue Sky Organic, I have learned the value of buying local foods.
By investing in our farming communities we are able to embrace the development of our local economies. There is a large return from this investment.
What began as a way to stretch my food dollars, turned into a new way of life. After choosing to eat locally, my health has improved, I have ventured into the art of cooking, and my family has been able to enjoy balanced, delicious dinners together. With each bite, I gain more confidence that we are enjoying quality food, grown by people we can trust. The security in that is so rewarding.
If you aren’t part of the local food movement yet, I encourage you to give it a try! Whether you are searching for ways to stretch your own food dollars, or you want to introduce your family to where food comes from, by choosing local you will not be disappointed.
What If You’re Not in Arizona?
If you are not located in Arizona, don’t worry, I have a resource that can help you. You can visit www.localharvest.org, to access a national online search for locally grown produce. What Arizona Farm Bureau’s Fill Your Plate does locally, Local Harvest does nationally.
You do not have to miss out because with this resource you can also have access to local farmers who grow and sell all types of quality food. With a national directory that lists over 30,000 family farms and farmers markets, along with local restaurants and grocery stores, I am sure you will find what you are searching for.