March 5, 2013

Sourcing Produce Outside of the Supermarket with Aimee of Simple Bites

5 Ways to Source Produce Outside of the Supermarket

Today I am thrilled to welcome my friend Aimee of Simple Bites. She is here to share her five awesome tips for the best ways to source excellent fresh produce outside of the supermarket. I find this incredibly helpful since I much prefer to support local producers and feed my family the healthiest product possible. I am sure you will also find your tips as helpful as I do!

How to Source Your Produce Locally in 2013

We’re still snowed in with no signs of spring yet, but keep thinking about my raised garden beds, buried under the ice, and daydreaming about a simple bowl of freshly picked baby greens.

Beyond the garden lies the forest, and I know that as soon as the spring melt begins, the ramps will be among the first shoots to push through the earth, waving hello with their bright green tips.

Whether you are thinking about starting seeds, or joining a CSA before the cutoff date, now is the time to be thinking about how you can source your spring and summer fruits and vegetables – without relying on the supermarket.

Here are five ways to source your produce outside the supermarket in the upcoming growing season:

Grow Your Own: backyard garden or community garden

Our raised beds keep us in salad fixings and fresh herbs from May to October, while a few buckets of potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and peppers round out the harvest. It’s a learning process each year, but our efforts are rewarded, rain or shine.

Proper garden planning helps avoid harvest heartbreak, whether they are simply herbs on a sunny window perch or tomatoes in buckets on the back deck. Take time now to decide what you will plant, where you will plant, and what you will need for the spring.

If you live in the city, but will enjoy getting your hands in the dirt, you may want to inquire about a spot in a local community garden.

The Eat Well Guide lists community gardens, just punch in your zip code to find the closest one. You can also visit your local community center or city hall to retrieve more information.

Sourcing Fruit

Community Supported Agriculture  (CSA)

Not into gardening, but want farm fresh vegetables? Then perhaps you should be calling around and getting your name on a list for a CSA basket. With the purchase of a membership or share in a local farm, and reviving a monthly CSA box of produce, you are investing in the farm and guaranteeing a certain amount of your food for the year.

Freshness is one thing, but it’s pretty cool to know where your food comes from.You can search for a local CSA at

Farmers Market or City Market

Shopping the markets on the weekends is one of my favorite summer family outings. It’s also a fantastic way to support local growers, and meet the people who work so hard to grow our food.

USDA Farmer’s Market Search is one way to find a market in your neighborhood. Local Harvest also has a search option; just enter your zip code.

U-Picks, Fruit Stands and Farm Stands

When your backyard plot or CSA box just is providing plenty for the day-to-day eating, but not enough for ‘putting up’ preserves, then its time to head to the farm. These trips are more than just a way to escape the city, but are an opportunity show our children that vegetables grow in the dirt and berries ripen on bushes.

Be sure to phone ahead before you set out for the day and confirm that the farm is indeed open, and the specific fruit or vegetable you are after is in its prime and readily available for the picking.

Keep your eyes peeled for farm stands along the country roads and smaller highways. Keep cash available and plenty of trunk space for when you score that bushel of perfectly ripe peaches.

Pick Your is a good place to start looking for local U-Pick farms. You can also ask your friends, or local food bloggers to recommend a U-Pick.

Eat Well Guide lists local farms by state or zipcode, and you are sure to find a farm near you.

Sourcing Produce

Foraging: Urban or Country

No, urban foraging isn’t dumpster-diving, but a noble movement to harvest the neglected fruit from public urban areas. You may be surprised at the bounty found in city parks, alleyways and river banks. is a well-known Toronto organization that demonstrates how, ahem, fruitful, urban foraging can be!

If you have an opportunity to forage in the wild, then you are in for some fun. Berries, chanterelle mushrooms and an abundance of ramps are a few of the treasures I have harvested in my own backyard. Foraged food comes with a bit of effort, which makes it all the more enjoyable – or at least that is my personal theory.

Are you planting a garden? Joining a CSA? How are you planning to source local produce this spring?

Photos: Both photos above by Aimee at Simple Bites. Used with permission.

5 Responses to “Sourcing Produce Outside of the Supermarket with Aimee of Simple Bites”

  1. blissmamaof3 says:

    Great ideas, thanks Kelsey and Aimee!

  2. sat schuck says:

    We get a weekly delivery from Door to Door Organics – fruits & veggies and we can shop for many other organic things like dairy, meats, organic packaged foods. super convenient and great quality at a good cost.

  3. Would y’all hate me if I told you that our kale and chard have been year-round harvests in our garden? I actually think they’ve done BETTER over the winter! Ah, the joys of living in California 😉

  4. Thanks, Kelsey and Aimee! This season will be our 8th year with a CSA and I don’t ever foresee stopping. We kept it up after moving to the midwest, and it’s just part of the routine in my kitchen. I also have a garden, and do pick your owns for the berries that I don’t get from my farmer. As the freezer and pantry stocks of vegetables and fruits that I put up last summer dwindle, it makes me yearn for my plans for the summer garden and farm share season. Perhaps our next home will be in a place that has more food year round–I can only hope!