It doesn’t take a professional chef to bring sustainability to the dinner table. Here’s our go-to guide for sourcing.
1. Begin at your local farmers market.
- Ask questions. Is the produce certified organic? If a farm isn’t certified organic, what kind of practices are they using? (Often farmers are growing organically but cannot afford the certification.) Does the vendor have a storefront or farm stand where you can purchase goods more often?
- Become familiar with what’s in season. Farmer’s markets are perfect places to reacquaint yourself with the seasons. Observe and ask about changes in seasonal produce, and learn the best times to buy different fruits and veggies (for example, don’t buy tomatoes in March!).
2. Forage in your own neighborhood.
- Ask permission from your neighbors to harvest extra produce. Urban fruit trees produce a lot of food that often goes to waste. Get to know your neighbors and build community by gifting what you made with their surplus back to them.
3. Challenge your preconceptions about protein.
- Rethink portion sizes. Buying quality protein can be expensive. However, eating less fish and steak is a sustainable compromise. Think 3-5 oz portions, rather than an 8-12 oz steak.
- Sustainable seafood. Depending on where you are, there are likely local fish markets sourcing sustainably caught seafood. Ask local restaurants where they are sourcing from. Here in Orange County, we frequent Tuna Harbor in San Diego and Dory Fleet in Newport.
- Local ranchers. Look for local ranchers raising pasture birds, cows, and pigs.
- Dairy options. Expand your palette – try goat and sheep dairy as an alternative to cow’s milk. It is often easier to find local goat and sheep dairies producing cheese and milk.
4. Visit a local farm.
- Get to know a nearby farm. Many farms have farm tours, harvest events, and farm stands giving you the opportunity to get to know where your produce is coming from.
5. Do it yourself.
- Grow Your Own. The best way to know where your food is coming from is to grow it yourself! Begin with an herb garden or fruit tree orchard and start reaping the benefits of homegrown produce.
- Build your pantry. Many commonly required kitchen necessities can be made at home. Try your hand at making apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, kombucha, sauerkraut, pickles, and more.
6. If an ingredient is not local, choose a local business.
- Choose companies that are sourcing from sustainably grown suppliers. This is applicable to wine, beer, grain and oils, where we have the opportunity to support a local business owner who’s putting a lot of intention into their product.