Iowa local foods thread

Congratulations to the Iowa Food Cooperative, which is among 86 recipients of U.S. Department of Agriculture grants under the 2009 Farmers Market Promotion Program. If you live in the Des Moines area, check out what the Iowa Food Cooperative has to offer.

I missed the latest “Sample Sunday” at three farms near Woodward, because my kids wanted to go to the “Renaissance Faire” instead. (Couldn’t do that on Saturday because of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.) I admit that I enjoyed the combination of civil society and “fakelore” at the “faire,” but I would have rather been eating Northern Prairie Chevre cheese and Picket Fence Creamery ice cream than carnival food.

In August and September I absolutely love my weekly boxes of vegetables from One Step at a Time Gardens. Not long ago the largest kohlrabi I’ve ever seen showed up in one box. Apparently it is some kind of European variety that grows very big. I have farm-fresh, chemical-free potatoes as well, so it looks like I’ll be making kohlrabi and potato soup with caraway seeds this week, for the first time since last season.

You can find locally-grown fruits and vegetables in more and more major Iowa grocery stores, but you can often pay less for fresher food by buying directly from farmers. This page lists 126 farmers markets and fruit stands in Iowa. Many other farmers sell out of their trucks in urban parking lots or along country roads.

If you live in northeastern Iowa, I highly recommend 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. To download, go to the 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.

If you find it hard to incorporate seasonal foods in your diet, it may help to change some of your shopping and cooking habits.

The freshest and most economical food is the food you grow yourself, but I can’t help you there. Our yard is too shady for a garden, and even the tomato plant on our deck was a total failure this summer.

Please share your own local food stories, successes or disappointments in this thread.

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