3 Ways to Incorporate Local Foods into your Home Today!

May 11
Written By Kenna Kanneberg


It’s no longer surprising to hear about supply chain issues and see signs at the grocery store indicating that a product is temporarily out of stock. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we began to realize how dependent the typical American is on the global economy, even for our groceries! It’s not uncommon to go to the grocery store, pull something off the shelf and read the packaging, only to find that the food was transported across the country, or even the world, to reach our local supermarkets.

Eating foods manufactured or produced around the world not only incentivizes cheaper labor practices and production costs to mitigate shipping costs; it also affects the flavor of what we’re eating. Produce is an easy example. In order to ship produce across the continent or an ocean, it needs to be harvested before it is fully ripe, as ripeness often leads to tender fruits that are more easily damaged. When we harvest fruits or vegetables before they are fully ripe, we deprive them of the time to develop their full flavor and nutrient profile, leading to bland foods with different textures than what we could expect from a freshly harvested version of the same food. If you’ve ever tried a tomato from the supermarket in January and thought it was disappointing, that may be part of the reason. It is very hard to compare to a tomato that was harvested within hours or minutes of being eaten.

Localizing our food system also creates higher accountability for the producers of our foods. Recently, we have seen a marketing trend of ensuring that products are “fresh”, “non-GMO” or “cage-free”. Yet what does that actually mean about a company’s labor practices? We could be very encouraged to see those labels on the food we’re paying extra for at the grocery store, yet very disheartened to see what a company’s practices are in reality. When you know your local farmer, and are able to regularly see how they produce the food that you are paying for, you can rest assured knowing that the quality afforded your food extends beyond clever marketing schemes.

If you are just learning of some of the above information, it may feel overwhelming to try to incorporate local food into your diet. Like I had, you may have bought into the lie that you can’t afford to eat local. Or you may just be unsure of how to start. This post outlines 3 ways for you to begin incorporating local food into your diet, without having to give up many of the foods you know and love. 


1. Find your local farmers and ask what they sell.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re off to a great start! We are so excited to be able to produce high-quality eggs, meat chickens and produce for the Green Bay area. Even though it’s our first season, Shane and I love talking to people about what we’re producing on our farm. If a farmer is producing a great product, they are likely excited to answer your questions about it.

If you’re unsure where to begin looking, you’re not alone! Taking a Saturday morning to walk around your local farmers’ market will give you a good idea of what is available to purchase locally in your area, and you can begin planning your family’s meals around what you see at the stands. In Northeast WI, we have a large variety of fruits and veggies throughout the growing seasons, local dairies and cheese producers, meat and egg producers and even some farmers that sell their own grains - like flour! Many farmers have social media pages that you can use to reach out and ask what they sell year round. Many cities even have winter farmers’ markets where vendors sell their food throughout the winter months, as well.

Once you have an idea of what you can buy locally, it’s easier to make the decision in the grocery store to stock up on pantry essentials, and wait until you’re able to connect with a local farmer to purchase the rest. Shane and I started out with a weekly grocery budget of $50 to spend at the farmer’s market or through our CSA, and $25 at the grocery store. While this seemed tight for a while, we began to find creative ways to flip our budget, enjoying snacks like fresh strawberries from the farm instead of snack food from the grocery.

2. Eat in season.

Eating with the seasons may feel overwhelming at first. “What do you mean tomatoes taste different in July than in January?” However, if you have access to the internet, it’s relatively simple to find out what you can eat this month that you can source locally, will taste great, and be super nutritious. For example, in late April/early May in northern Wisconsin, it is likely you’ll be able to find rhubarb, asparagus, herbs and greens that are produced within 30 miles of where you live! Our rhubarb is poking its leaves through the ground this week, and I am very excited to create some fresh desserts and breakfasts for my family with what we harvest.

Eating in-season also cultivates an anticipation around your family’s meals. Personally, I can’t wait for the first ripe strawberries of the year. Fresh cilantro in all of our meals reminds me of summertime, when it’s hot out and you need a little extra freshness to fill your appetite. Plus, when you eat in season, you don’t have to worry about getting sick of a certain fruit or vegetable. Eat all of the strawberries you want! Soon they’ll be gone and it will be time to enjoy raspberries, followed by watermelon and then apples in the fall. It’s an interesting gift of design that we can eat our fill and look forward to the next fruit or veggie in season.

Learning how to store food when it’s in season can also ensure that your family has access to healthy, delicious foods throughout the rest of the year. This is especially important when we live in a place that freezes for the winter! Last summer, I froze 3 gallons of raspberries from our bushes. These reminded me of summer, saved us money and satisfied my pregnancy cravings throughout the winter months. Oftentimes, produce will be cheaper when it is in season, as well, saving you money as you plan ahead on how you can feed your family. You can save just about any type of produce through canning, freezing or dehydrating, and enjoy it for months to come!

3. Read the labels at the grocery store.

Realistically, you are not going to go from shopping at your local grocery store to being 100% involved in the local food system - though that is a worthy goal. One simple way to be a more conscious consumer in the grocery store is to pause and read the labels of what you’re buying. Not only will this help you identify any hidden additives in foods that should not have add-ins, but it will also help you make decisions about what you can get that was produced in your area. Many grocery stores partner with local creameries to source cheeses, bakeries to source their breads, and many others. We’ve bought locally produced jams, breads, cheeses, butters, milks and sweeteners from our grocery store.

Another healthy way to incorporate local foods into your diet is to swap out white sugar for honey or maple syrup! In Northern WI, there are many options in the grocery stores for maple syrup and honey that has been produced within 30 minutes of the store. You’re supporting a local business by buying from these producers (and can sometimes contact them to see if you can buy from them directly), as well as choosing a less refined sweetener for your family.

There are so many ways that you can get your family started in the local food scene. These are just a few of the ways that I chose to start my family along this route. Don’t let the fear of change stop you from feeding your family the best that your area has to offer! Starting small, with one or two changes at a time, is a really sustainable way to transition your family to eating well, in season, and supporting your local farmer.

Until next time!

Your farmers,

Shane and Kenna