From our perspective, where you get your food is as important as how you prepare it. So, with that in mind, we’d like to take the opportunity to share with you where we get our great stuff.
Everything started for us at the local Farmer’s Market. In 2007, we started to make regular trips to the Maynard Farmer’s Market. The market is weekly and runs from late June through early October. This market has a little of bit of everything, from veggies to meat, milk to eggs, and coffee (beans and freshly brewed) to baked goods.
After shopping the Farmer’s Market with some regularity, we decided to take the plunge and joined a CSA to provide us with a consistent supply of summer veggies. Since 2008, we’ve participated in the CSA run by Stillman’s Farm. They grow a wide variety of common and less-common vegetables, both conventional and heirloom varieties. Their premise is to grow their food in a way that is respectful of the land and the environment. They use farming methods that minimize damage to the land and to beneficial animals while protecting the crops.
For the last two winters we have also participated in a winter CSA run by Gretta Anderson. This CSA provides us with root and storage vegetables and apples all the way into December. The veggies are produced by a handful of local farms using organic methods. In winter 2010 we joined a new deep winter CSA from Red Fire Farm. This CSA provides 6 distributions (every other week) from January-March and includes storage crops, cold frame greens, and locally produced products like honey, pickles, etc.
Our CSA participation doesn’t start and end with veggies. An offshoot of Stillman Farm offers a meat CSA. If you thought that you could really appreciate the local produce, the local meat is even better. All their meat is raised humanely, eating what that particular animal is supposed to eat. The pigs are an heirloom breed that have spectacular flavor. We pick up the meat monthly in frozen, vacuum sealed packages. We get a mix of beef, chicken, pork and lamb and the cuts include ground meat, chops, steaks, and occasionally treats such as prepared sausages, some bulk sausage, and even hot dogs.
This summer we tried our hand (and mouth and stomach) at a CSF – Community Supported Fishery. The CSF was brought to us by the Cape Ann Fresh Catch. No question it was fresh. However, for us, with Thing 2 being brand new, we were a little overwhelmed with filleting our own fish and trying to figure out what to do with it all. This is something that we’ll probably revisit in the future.
Outside of the CSAs, we also try to shop for as much of our other food at local farms and markets. We get our eggs from Balance Rock Farm in Berlin, MA. We also pick up local honey, maple syrup, cheese, and occasionally some dairy and extra meat. Recently, we purchased an entire steer which we split with five ways with friends.
When they are in season, we try to pick enough berries and other fruits to satisfy our immediate wants and also to freeze as much as possible to get us through the winter. In addition to freezing fresh fruit, we also make things like jam and applesauce. The past few years, we’ve been going to Tougas Family Farm. We primarily pick blueberries and strawberries in the early summer and apples later in the season. They also grow raspberries, peaches, cherries, blackberries, and pumpkins.
The above farms have a done a wonderful job of supplying us with most of our food. We still venture to Trader Joe’s on a weekly basis for things like milk, juice, pasta, and yogurt. About once a month, we make a trip to places like Whole Foods Markets or Debra’s Natural Gourmet and fill up on their bulk offerings. Steel cut oatmeal, rice, black beans, chick peas, navy beans and various other dried legumes make their way into our cart. Also, we stock up on flour (all-purpose and bread), sugar, tea and some coffee.
We can’t get everything locally, but we sure do try. When shopping at grocery stores, we focus on foods that are as natural as possible, organic, and environmentally-friendly packaging.