Tips For Eating Local from The Feast Nearby

Robin Mather, author of The Feast Nearby, shares her top-5 tips for eating locally.
By: Victoria Phillips

Robin Mather, author of The Feast Nearby, lost both her marriage and her job during the same week in 2009. A food writer for more than 30 years, Mather retreated to a cottage in her native Michigan for solace.

“Everything had to change really fast,” she says. “I had no way to pay for what I was used to paying for.”

A proponent of eating locally, and sparked by this life change, Mather embarked on a year-long project to sustain herself on $40 a week. Not only did she end up sustaining herself, but she also put money back into the community by choosing to support local farmers instead of going to a chain grocery store.

Mather says it was important for her to convey in The Feast Nearby that eating locally isn’t just for the foodie-elite.

“If you can make five meals a week of locally produced food, you have already improved the situation in your community immeasurably,” she says.

Try some of Mather’s tips for working more local produce into your life. Your local farmers will thank you.

1. Find something that you eat a lot of and then try to find a local source for it. “Start slow,” she says. “Just change one or two things at first.” If you already eat locally, be more aggressive about it. Try to have whole days where you don’t eat anything that came more than 25 or 50 miles from your home.”

2. “Take a few minutes and consider the fact that you’re going to get hungry 21 times a week, at least,” Mather says. Figure out what you’re going to take for lunch. Plan where you’re going to go, and how much money you want to spend.

3. Buy a little extra produce at the farmers’ market each week and spend an hour preserving. “Four-to-six jars at a time, every week of the growing season, gets you a lot of food,” she says.

4. Bask in your self-reliance. A pantry stocked with food you’ve preserved is something to smile about. You’ll be prepared for anything that comes along.

5. Check your freezer. The beginning of fall is a good time to see what meats you might need for the coming months. Local growers are sending chickens, hogs and turkeys to the butcher. Think ahead and get that Thanksgiving turkey early this year.

Tell us: How often do you eat locally?
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