Links to help you find local foods in Iowa

The weather was perfect on Sunday for visiting three farms near Woodward in central Iowa. Yesterday I picked up some grass-fed beef from Wallace Farms. Today I’m looking forward to my weekly box of vegetables from One Step at a Time Gardens. So, it seemed like a good time for another post on finding and eating local food.

For inspiration, check in on Rob Marqusee’s local food challenge. For the whole month of June, Rob is eating only food grown within 100 miles of the Woodbury County Courthouse (located in Sioux City, Iowa). Also, he is not eating any meat. As you can see from his journal (scroll down for the most recent updates), he’s eating well and feeling great despite the “sad moment” when he used up the last bit of his blue corn flour for pancakes.

Few of us are as committed or ambitious as Marqusee, but that doesn’t mean we can’t significantly change the way we eat. A few shifts in your attitude, shopping and cooking habits can make a big difference.

Although your nearby grocery store may sell some local fruits and vegetables in the summer, your best bet is to find a way to buy directly from farmers. This page lists 126 farmers markets and fruit stands in Iowa. Many other farmers sell fresh food in urban parking lots or along country roads.

There’s a fantastic resource for Iowans in the northeastern part of the state: the 2009 Buy Fresh Buy Local Food Directory, published by the Northern Iowa Food & Farm Partnership (NIFFP) at the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy & Environmental Education. This guide covers grocers, farmers markets, local food producers and restaurants that serve local foods in Allamakee, Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Fayette, Floyd, Grundy, Mitchell and Tama counties. From a press release:

“New additions to the directory this year include a chart that shows the best times to buy Iowa fruits and vegetables, information on how to buy locally grown meat, and a list of 2009 local food events,” says Andrea Geary, NIFFP coordinator.

You can download this guide for free by going to UNI’s Center for Energy & Environmental Education site, clicking on “Local Foods” and scrolling down to “Find Local Foods Near You.”

The Iowa Network for Community Agriculture has lots of good links here for consumers interested in local foods.

Diana Bauman has more local food links, along with recipes and updates on her garden, at A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

If you live within striking distance of the Des Moines area, consider joining the Iowa Food Cooperative.

Please share your own local food tips or stories in this thread.

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