Benefits of Supporting Oklahoma Farmers
In the previous post, Buy Local: Locally Grown Food Benefits, we discussed the many benefits of supporting the local food system. Today, I will go over the many resources available to help support the local food movement in Oklahoma.
How to Support Oklahoma Farmers
Local Food is Community
To support Oklahoma farmers is essential to our community’s survival. The bigger the farms get, the less farmers there are because they’ve been replaced with machines or a bio-tech scientist. These large farms often deplete the land of our land’s resources. They’re in the business to make money, not because they are passionate about feeding people food full of nutrients. Small farmers are more likely to see their farm as less of a business and more as a way of life, especially if they’ve been raised in a farming family.
Although this isn’t always the case, small family farms are more likely to keep our water pure and the soil healthy. It is easier to diversify and stay in-tune with nature with a small farm. Less acreage means the small-scale farmers has more time to devote to doing things right for each acre they have. They also care about the land and the people they feed because they’re in direct contact with it everyday, instead of in the lab or in an off-site location. To keep that from happening, we have to consistently support Oklahoma farmers.
So how do we support Oklahoma farmers?
Choose restaurants that source foods locally and support workers.Get your Guide to Buying Local Food in Oklahoma for a free printable for businesses that sell local produce in Oklahoma! Please contact us with the names of locations of restaurants that you know support Oklahoma farmers and provide fresh local produce.
Embrace biodiversity.Find out which foods are your region’s specialties and try those rarer varieties. Instead of factory-farmed Broad Breasted White turkeys, for instance, find a heritage breed unique to your area and discover a wonderful array of new flavors. Choosing local varieties is not only good for the local food system, but also helps preserve genetic diversity.
Look for Local Brands in Stores
As the local food movement grows, more conventional stores and starting to add locally produced items to their shelves. To ensure local products stay on the shelves, and encourage grocers to stock even more options, purchase these items.
4. Make suggestions.
If your local supermarkets don’t stock locally-sourced foods, ask. Tell your friends to ask, too. Store owners want to provide customers with in-demand products, and respond well to consumer suggestions. If there is enough call for local products, owners will be more likely to bring these items into stores.
5. Plan your menus around what’s being harvested.
Even if everything you buy isn’t produced in your community, you still contribute to the local food system by building seasonal foods into your recipes. If you’re at a loss and need inspiration, check out the Replenishing Oklahoma produce calendar for monthly inspiration for seasonal eat. In colder months, swap the heat-loving basil in pesto for a winter green like kale or beet greens. Switch the peppers, zucchini and tomatoes in your summertime pasta for broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts in fall. We will add a section on this soon, but for now, check out the seasonal recipes on our sister blog.
Yes, you read that right. Many small-scale farms can use a little extra help with a variety of tasks around the property. Volunteering at a local farm can enable you to learn more about your local agriculturalist and the work they do every day, while building lasting relationships and giving back to your local food system.
7. Find Local Food
Obviously one of the best ways to support Oklahoma farmers, is to buy directly from them. Here’s a couple of sources to check out for your area.
Local Farmers Markets
Farmers Markets are going more popular in Oklahoma. They’re a great way to network and get to know your farmer. Shopping at a farmer’s market is more fun than wandering around the endless aisles at grocery stores. The food is fresh because it’s usually picked that morning or the day before.
Oklahoma Produce Stands
I’m not sure about other states, but in Oklahoma roadside stands are everywhere, especially in the summer. They’re also a great way to get fresh, local food and they’re usually conveniently located on your way home.
Agricultural Co-ops like the Oklahoma Co-op, are usually controlled and by farmers, ranchers or growers. Through their cooperatives, farmers have control, as elected board members to make decisions that affect them. The farmers market their products together, share the supplies and services the need to market to their customers better. The co-ops are available online and bring the food to a central pickup, making it convenient to shop for whatever you need.
Community-Supported Agriculture are one of my favorite ways to eat seasonally. At the beginning of season, you purchase a weekly 1/2 share or more of vegetables, fruit, bread, eggs, milk, meat or whatever your local CSA has available. Every week the farmer brings you an order. It takes the guess work out of everything. Sometimes it’s difficult to find ways to use the produce available, but it also forces you to get creative and eat healthier, so you don’t let the food go to waste. This program benefits the farmers because they give out whatever extra they have and they are able to guestimate how much food they need to grow to meet the demand.
Oklahoma Farm Produce Stores
Farm stores are usually small stores that sell only the produce they grow and a few other local products. This can also be a collective of farmers, but it definitely makes it easier to find what’s in season and buy from local farmers.
Local Produce Farms
Often, farms have a way to buy directly on the farm. Sometimes it’s a little shop, other times you can meet the farmer and buy in person. This is often a cheaper option because they don’t have to travel.
Ask in your locally based Facebook groups, on websites like Local Harvest, Local Food directories, and even a Google search to find options to eat seasonally in your area. When you do find your favorite way to support local farmers, make sure to promote them and encourage all your friends to buy from them too!
So there you have it, seven ways to support Oklahoma farmers. I hope this post gave you some great ideas and please, feel free to comment or contact us with your favorite farmers or local produce outlets to add to guide to buying locally grown food in Oklahoma.
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