10 Ways To Shop Small And Eat Better Every Day: Part One

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Organic Farmers At The Farmers Market

Today is the third annual Small Business Saturday — a day designed to encourage us to “shop small” in support of independently-owned establishments. I love this idea and admire people with the gumption to start their own businesses, particularly when they focus on flavorful, healthy food.

But why stop at a day?!? It’s simple to patronize small businesses every day and eat better as a result.

Today, I’m sharing the first five of ten ways you can shop small throughout the year. Looking for farmers markets, local dairy products, or locally raised, grassfed beef? We’ve got you covered with tips for finding these and other similar products in your area. In the mood for an online source of handcrafted toffee or a local microbrewery? Come back tomorrow for five more ways to shop small.

  1. Search the Small Business Saturday directory. American Express sponsors this day every year, and they’ve created a searchable small business directory. Owners of small shops can submit information for the directory, and you can find them by city or zip code. You have to put up with a little advertising, but your independent business owners will be thankful you did.
  2. Find your local farms and farmers markets. With the number of farmers markets on the rise, we’ve also seen an increase in the number of ways you can find them. LocalHarvest is one of my favorites: It helps you find farms and farmers markets as well as sustainably-focused restaurants, grocers, CSAs and meat processors. You can also search the the USDA’s farmers market directory, Local Dirt, or Eat Well Guide’s listings to find local, organic, sustainably-raised meat, dairy, and produce.
  3. Buy milk direct from the cow. If you’re into making your own cheese, finding a reliable, local dairy source can connect you with the freshest, most appropriate milk or cream available. The New England Cheesemaking Supply Company hosts a list of milk sources organized by state as does A Campaign For Real Milk. LocalHarvest also provides a tool to search for raw milk by your zip code.
  4. Find local eggs. LocalHarvest also helps you find freshly-laid eggs in your area as does a cool, small site named Eggzy. I’m able to buy local eggs at a small market nearby, and if you are an egg enthusiast like me, you’ll never want to buy supermarket eggs after eating a lovingly-scrambled fresh one. I’ve also seen farm fresh eggs at a number of farmers markets. Search them out!
  5. Support purveyors of meat from happy cows, pigs, and chickens. There are many reasons to seek out meat from animals that are fed what they were naturally created to eat and humanely treated throughout their lives. Fortunately, it’s easy to find thanks to the search engines mentioned above (LocalHarvest, the USDA’s farmers market directoryLocal Dirt, and Eat Well Guide). Eatwild also provides a wealth of information and state-by-state listings for those looking for “safe, healthy, natural and nutritious grass-fed beef, lamb, goats, bison, poultry, pork, dairy and other wild edibles.”

What local meat and dairy finders have I missed? How are you supporting Small Business Saturday? Let us know with your comments. And don’t forget to come back tomorrow for five more ways to shop small and eat better every day of the year.

Image Credit: istolethetv via Flickr/CC

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