1. Join a CSA
If you like to cook and like to try new foods, get a community supported agriculture (CSA) share from a local farm. You pay up front, which helps the farmer pay for early-season costs in exchange for farm-fresh produce each week. Typically pick-ups are at the farm or a central location like a local business. If you work for a large company and your fellow employees are interested as well, ask if the farm will do a workplace drop-off. Before you commit, ask about the amount of produce to expect in a typical pick-up to see if it’s manageable. You may also find you get produce you’re not familiar with (rutabaga, anyone?). But that provides a great opportunity to get ideas from your farmer and other CSA members. And, of course, the recipes in this book will inspire you as well.
Find a CSA near you at localharvest.org or ask farmers at the market if they have CSA shares.
2. Buy the Cow
Don’t just buy a burger, buy the cow—or a pig or a lamb. Small farms are increasingly selling “animal shares”: a whole animal or portion of one. The farm takes care of processing, USDA inspection and packaging. Buying an animal is a great way to save money if you are committed to eating locally raised meat, as prices are lower per pound (usually $3 to $5, depending on type of animal and how much you’re buying). Make sure you have adequate freezer space before purchasing an animal. If the amount of meat seems daunting, ask friends or family to go in on a share with you.
Find a local farm where you can buy meat direct at localharvest.org or check your local classified ads.