Resources For Consumers
Consumers are really co-producers, in that what they (you!) choose to buy has a direct bearing on what farmers and food companies produce. If everyone stopped buying Twinkies, for example, the manufacturer would stop producing them. Your pocketbook is a powerful tool for change — use it wisely!
Links to help you become a more informed consumer
- Heartland Local Food Network
Dedicated to local food production and consumption in central Illinois.
- Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Promoters of Illinois-grown food and farms.
- Local Harvest
A nationwide directory of CSAs and other local food sources.
- Food Routes
On average food travels 1,300 miles from the farm to your table, this site offers resources on locally produced food.
Provides resources for eating locally.
- Organic Consumers Association
Promotes the interests of the nation's organic consumers.
- Slow Food USA
A grassroots movement that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to community and the environment.
- Stone Barns Center
For Food & Agriculture a real working farm 30 miles from Manhattan.
- Eat Well
Directory of sustainably-raised meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs.
- Eat Wild
Lists local suppliers for grass-fed meat and dairy products.
- Sustainable Table (link coming soon)
An online directory of sustainable products in the U.S. and Canada, and the Meatrix movies.
- USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (link coming soon)
Includes a listing of farmers' markets across the US.
- Farm Foody (link coming soon)
Social networking as a way of interacting with independent farmers and supporting sustainable agriculture.
- Eat Local (link coming soon)
Challenge the benefits of eating food grown and produced in the local foodshed.
Finding Great Local Food
The grocery store knows no seasons. It is disconnected from nature, and it is disconnecting for those who shop there. Sure, you can buy tomatoes in January, but that sorry tomato was picked green 2000 miles away and weeks ago, then blasted with ethylene gas to make it turn red just before it was placed on the produce shelf. What we have gained in convenience, we have lost in flavor, freshness, and nutritional value.
Fortunately, it is getting easier and easier to find local and organic foods – at farmers markets and through CSAs. Here are some good places to start if you want to find great local, sustainably grown food.
- Illinois Farm Direct: www.illinoisfarmdirect.org
- Local Harvest: www.localharvest.org
- Chicago Localvores: http://chicago.localvores.org
- Local Beet: www.thelocalbeet.com
- Eat Wild: www.eatwild.com
- Heritage Farmers Market:
Located at 18837 Route 9 between Tremont and Pekin.
Facilitated by The Land Connection and Heifer International, this market features farmers who raise and sell all-natural chicken, pork, and beef, as well as a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) is sometimes known as “subscription farming,” where instead of receiving a magazine each week, you receive a box of fresh, locally grown or raised fruit, vegetables, eggs, or meats.
A growing trend, Community Supported Agriculture hearkens back to a time when people knew where their food came from, ate in harmony with the seasons, and enjoyed a balanced and nutritional diet of local, seasonal foods.
CSA subscribers don't so much buy food from particular farms as become members of those farms. CSA operations provide more than just food, they offer ways for consumers to become involved in the ecological and human community that supports the farm.
When you subscribe to a CSA, you will never have tomatoes in May or asparagus in August. In May, your vegetable CSA share will be full of luscious lettuce, spinach, asparagus, and other spring delights. When August comes, then you will experience an explosion of true tomato flavor with your first bite of a juicy, just-picked, sun-ripened tomato–proving that some things are worth waiting for!