Tips for Buying Local in Central TexasJul 13th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: show tips, the show
John Lash of Farm to Table in Austin, Texas knows a thing or two about shopping for local vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy, and shares his tips on finding the best local licks.
Know what is in season–consult a harvest schedule.
Whenever possible buy/consume in season–for example you can buy great Texas peaches from June through mid-August. But peaches the rest of the year will be from South America (Chile). You will love the Texas peaches; you will not like the South American peaches.
Shop at farmers markets (Even if you do not live in Austin, Texas, you can still find farmers markets, nearby farms, and other food producers at Local Harvest):
The rules for most markets dictate that 100% of the farm products be produced by the farmer selling them, who must be located within 150 miles of Farmer’s Market.
There are four markets on Saturday: 9am to 1pm, summer – 8am to 12 noon
- Sunset Valley, located at Burger Center parking lot
- Barton Creek, located at Barton Creek Square Mall parking lot
- Downtown, located at Republic Square, between w. 4th and w 5th and Guadalupe
- Cedar Park, located at parking lot of Lakeline Mall
Two markets on Sunday
- Lakeway Commons, on RR 620 near the main entrance to Lakeway
- Hope Farmers Market, located south of east 5th, just east of IH 35
- YMCA parking lot, east 51st and Hwy 183
- The Triangle, between Guadalupe and Lamar just north of west 45th
When shopping at Farmer’s Markets bring cash as most farmers are cash only.
Arrive early to shop at the farmers market as the best selections sell-out soon.
Try to develop a relationship with the farmer you purchase from. They will give you background on the products they raise and provide you inside information regarding what they will be harvesting and anything new or special to expect. Heck, they might even have a surprise for you hidden in their truck.
You could comparison shop but my experience is that most product prices are similar.
If you have developed a relationship with a farmer and you have something special to shop for, consider asking for a deal, especially if you are buying a large quantity. You might speak with the farmer about ordering in advance to insure that what you need will be available to you.
But if you order in advance, please honor that order as the farmer will be stuck if you don’t consummate the transaction.
Subscribe to a CSA with a farmer (community supported agriculture)
With a CSA you pay a farmer a set amount for a subscription to receive a portion of his/her harvest. The subscription is paid in advance of the harvest and this investment helps the farmer finance his/her harvest. Each week during a season you will receive a wonderful assortment of produce from the farmer. You can typically find farmers with CSA by speaking with farmers at the Farmer’s Market.
Shop at grocery stores:
Many grocery stores buy local farm products, including Whole Foods, Central Market, Wheatsville Food Coop, HEB, Randalls, Walmart, Fresh Plus and Crestview Minimax.
Whole Foods, Central Market and Wheatsville Food Coop usually have the largest selection in Austin for local products. All three indicate on store signage the origin of produce (ex: Texas, or the city e.g. Fredericksburg) and the farmer. If you have a question about the origin of certain items, talk with one of the stockers and if he/she cannot answer your question, ask to talk with manager or supervisor. I have made some of my best farm contacts by talking with the produce manager.