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How To Buy Local

What types of local food outlets are available?

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an arrangment or partnership made between community members and a particular local farm. In a CSA farm, consumers can purchase seasonal "shares" which entitle them to weekly food allowances. Shareholders visit the farm or another pickup location at a scheduled time every week to get their food. Some CSA farmers may even deliver to your door.

Farmers Markets
Farmers markets come in many different sizes and forms, providing a wide range of opportunities for both the consumer and the farmer. For one thing, farmers markets are a very convenient way to purchase local goods. Producers from around the area will bring their produce to a centralized location on a periodic basis throughout the growing season. Consumers have the opportunity to browse the goods and shop around for the best quality.

Farm Stands, On-Farm Markets & U-Picks
The farm stand and on-farm market give you the opportunity to purchase goods directly from farmers at their own independent locations. These may vary from small sheds or trucks selling one seasonal crop like strawberries or corn to warehouse-sized year-round operations with a diversity of products. A U-Pick farm gives consumers the unique opportunity to harvest their own produce (typically fruit). Usually operating only during the summer and fall, U-Picks may offer a variety of items including strawberries, blueberries, kiwis, pumpkins, and more.

Food Cooperatives
Food cooperatives, or food co-ops, are member-owned retail businesses dedicated to serving the community by providing the highest quality grocery items at the best value? (from Portland's Bounty, 2001, p. 24). They are typically owned by members who pay fees to use co-op services. Most times you can buy from a co-op even if you are not a member, but membership usually provides multiple benefits.

Food Buying Clubs
Food Buying Clubs are groups of people who place wholesale orders together for supplies. These clubs are often run by volunteer members, who perform most of the decision-making, receiving, distribution, and business tasks. They offer a variety of benefits for the consumer.

Some supermarkets and retail grocery stores may offer a selection of locally grown and produced items. This option offers a convenient way for consumers to purchase fresh local foods while doing their regular shopping.

Some specialty, alternative, and gourmet restaurants use ingredients from local producers. As with grocery stores, you may have to ask your restaurant about the exact sources of their food.

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