Bananas from Ecuador — 2,700 miles. Grapes from Chile — 5,000 miles. Apples from New Zealand — 8,600 miles. Buying food from in the U.S. often resembles a frequent flier mile stat sheet. These miles mean wasted energy and detrimental impact to the environment. However, almost every major city in America has the ability to slash this number greatly. Washington, D.C. is no exception. Just a 30-minute drive outside the city yields a vast cornucopia of locally supported, locally produced foods.
While buying local takes a bit more effort then simply popping into the nearest Safeway, it is by no means hard. If anything, buying locally produced foods in this day and age has never been easy. Laura Genello, Market and Program Manager of FRESHFARM Markets shared with planetforward.org some of the most affordable and convenient ways to start eating local.
This one is the no brainer. Currently D.C. has 19 farmers markets inside the city boundaries and almost double that around the Capitol Beltway area. Farmers markets not only provide a vast array of products but are also a great way to get into eating local and learn what is in season. They are great for both the local foods rookie and the hard fast veteran.
Community Supported Agriculture
Also known as CSA's, Community Supported Agriculture is very similar to wine of the month clubs. Members usually sign yearly contracts and pay monthly fees in exchange for boxes of bargain priced produce. Not only is the produce of the freshest quality, you get tons of what is best in season. D.C. is home to dozen's of CSA's, which are all listed at Local Harvest. Great Country Farms, one of the more popular ones, start at as little as $22 a week but also offers various monthly and yearly plans.
Food co-op's are just now becoming more and more popular in the U.S. At one
time co-op's were havens for the crunchy granola gurus but the recent interested in local food sustainability has made the co-op much more accessible to the mainstream crowd. Prices are notoriously affordable because in order to use a co-op patrons must volunteer to work at the store. GLUT is one of the district's first and largest co-ops.