Last Monday, I shared a post with you about how we’ve adopted an online menu planning service as our method of improving the healthiness of our dinners. Now, I’d like to show you another tool that I use to help us eat the most nutritious food we can.
LocallyGrown.net is essentially an online farmers market; and, as you can see from the map, there are loads of them across the U.S. (and so far one in Canada). We use the Little Rock Locally Grown Food Club, which is run by the Arkansas Sustainability Network. From our Food Club website:
The Local Food Club connects members with the local food system. Members have a weekly opportunity to interact with local farmers as a participant in our local farm buying cooperative. Members get an inside look at what’s available locally and can get to know their local farmers through the buying cooperative.
Our buying cooperative, in conjunction with other fantastic local food programs, can help stock your kitchen year-round. Healthy, accessible local food and viable local farming operations are cornerstones of a more sustainable community.
How it works
Unlike other co-ops, buying clubs, or CSAs where everyone gets the same box of stuff (and you don’t know what you’re getting until you get it), with Locally Grown you get to order what you want, in the quantities that you want, from the farms that you want.
• First, sign up for an account by clicking on “Your Account” at the top of the page. Once you have an account you will be notified each Sunday when the market opens and you’ll be able to place your orders until Tuesday evening.
• Order conveniently from the comfort of your home computer by visiting the market page for the weeks offerings; or if need be by responding directly to the e-mail, or by phone. You will receive an email confirmation of your order.
• Know what you are purchasing with more information about the vendors, their practices and their products on our grower page.
So here’s my entire process:
- Every Wednesday, I get my email newsletter from The Six O’Clock Scramble.
- The following Sunday, I sit down with the newsletter and determine which meals I want to make in the coming week and create a PDF of the recipes and corresponding grocery list.
- Sunday evening, I get an email from ASN telling me the Food Club is open for ordering.
- I go to the website and compare the grocery list from my Scramble menu, and I order everything I can on my grocery list from the Food Club*.
- I also browse the other available foods to see if there’s anything else I want for the week. I sometimes like some zucchini bread; I always get our honey from there (sometimes I can get honey from the next neighborhood over); and we’ve even ordered an apple tree sapling, three blueberry bushes, and various vegetable seedlings for the garden.
- I “check-out” pretty much like any other online shopping experience, except that I don’t pay right then.
- I get an email with the contents of my order, and I’m done with thinking about that part of my meal planning for the next week.
- That following Saturday, I go down to the pickup site, which happens to only be about three miles away from our house.
- Volunteers are there to help gather orders; and after going a number of times, it’s kind of become a social event for Sadie and me.
- The next day is grocery store day, and I buy everything else I couldn’t get through the Food Club.
*Sometimes, if, say, there aren’t any chicken breasts being sold (rather than the whole chicken), and I had a meal using chicken in mind from the Scramble, I’ll either swap out that meal or plan to substitute tofu from the grocery store.
I’ve been using the Food Club for a good few months now, but I really can’t wait for the spring and then summer crops to really be coming on. I’ve got big plans for canning jams this year instead of freezing them. And I might even try making and canning tomato paste. I’ll still visit the farmers market now and then, but it really is convenient to be able to order in advance with my meal plan in hand. There are some people who can just peruse the farmers market and pick up a little of this and a lot of that and manage to eat it all before it goes bad, just tossing together meals from whatever they bough. I am not one of those people, so I’m really glad I’ve finally come up with this system!
If you have a local food club (check the map and list on LocallyGrown.net), I highly recommend checking it out.