There are shirts, quotes, and accessories floating all over the internet, supporting our local farm businesses and farmers. "Support A Local Farmer." "Shop Local." "No Farmers. No Food. No Future". What does it mean to support your local farmer? Does it mean you only shop at the Farmer's Market? Only shop locally?
These questions came to the forefront this past year when the pandemic hit our country. Our world as we knew it came to a screeching halt. Devastation furiously impacted our local businesses as many were forced to close their doors. Realization hit that we, as Americans, needed to improve supporting our friends and families businesses. So the questions set in:
But how do I support a local farmer?
I have been asked this question countless times over the past year. My first instinct is to ask you to grab a pitchfork and help clean out my chicken barn. But we are in the middle of a pandemic, and I saw the havoc in my hometown and farm. We, too, were impacted by the pandemic. There were delays in contracted cattle; the system shut down, which led to people panicking at the grocery store for the lack of meat availability and other essential products. People hoarded, and the industry could not meet their demands. My second instinct is to yell and scream for people to stop hoarding, especially the toilet paper! But instead of yelling, I was asked to share my thoughts (nicely) because people were deeply concerned for their local farmers and businesses.
How to support your local farmer
Buy from a local Farmer's Market. Some farmers sell directly to you at these markets. Not only are you helping them out, but you are also getting the freshest farm-grown produce that is high in nutritional value.
Support your local businesses that purchase products directly from a farmer. For instance, eat at more farm-to-table restaurants. Some local farmers sell locally-owned restaurants fresh grown produce and meat. By patronizing these restaurants, you support a local farmer, eat nutritionally, and support your community's economy. Also, did you know that some local butcher shops buy directly from farmers, like us? A local meat shop purchased all of our hogs directly from our farm until we shut down our hog barns. That shop is still supporting local farmers and buying directly.
Buy from a grocery store, preferably locally owned. I'm sure by now; I have you confused. A grocery store? Yes, a grocery store. Many local farm commodities go into the food and products you purchase at a grocery store, including our farm. This also supports a farmer and local business owners together. Many people are convinced that only large corporate farms contribute to items in the grocery store. Not true. For example, the wheat we produce on our farm goes into Hostess Twinkies and Duncan Hines cake mixes and the biscuits you eat at Cracker Barrel. The sweet corn we grow sells at a local grocery store and restaurant. The milk produced at my neighbor's dairy farm goes into Prairie Farms butter and milk.
Get to know your local farmers. They grow food; they grow other crops used in clothing, fibers, oils, energy, cosmetics, plastics, and my favorite, Crayons! The best information you will receive about agriculture is directly from a farmer and their family.
So do it all! Shop at all of the above; local farmer's markets, local farm-supported businesses, and grocery stores. Every day, you use or consume a product that originated from a farmer.