Photos: Down to Earth Staff and Local Farmers

My absolute favorite part of summer is the plethora of fresh, local, seasonal fruits and veggies. This year, I’ve been making a bigger commitment to eating more local foods. Some effects of eating local foods can help benefit your health and the environment.

What I love the most about local foods are the stories behind them. The vast majority of local farmers and growers that Down to Earth supports are managed by families or close knit organizations. As someone who is more “city slicker” than I care to admit, I sometimes forget the incredible hard work and passion it takes to grow your food, much less grow enough to make a living!

When I go shopping for fresh produce, I try not to go when I’m in a hurry so I can slow down and take the time to ask Down to Earth produce managers what’s local and fresh. Lambert, Down to Earth Honolulu store’s produce manager, always has a long litany of recommendations and helps steers me in the right direction. He ends up going up and down the produce section with me and pointing out all the local stuff along with a story here or anecdote there about this local farmer or this local grower who sends us Meyer lemons that she grows in her backyard on the Big Island. Just knowing these little details endears me so much more to my food and to those who grow it.

My interest in learning these stories stems from volunteering at Down to Earth’s Volunteer Community Farm Days. These exciting quarterly events help bring Down to Earth team members and community volunteers together to help on community farms like Ho’oulu ‘Aina in Kalihi Valley. (Learn more about Community Farm Days) Spending the day to help plant beds or pull weeds or whatever else the community farms need is extremely special. Spending time with people who genuinely care about the land and growing food is inspiring. It helps connect you to the exhausting but extremely satisfying work that’s required to grow food. We just went on April 30th and we can’t wait to go back again!

Another great way to connect is to visit your local farmers market. There are many local farmers who sell their produce there directly, in addition to supplying Down to Earth stores. The Love Life! Community Outreach Team recently started doing cooking demonstrations at the Kailua Sunday Farmers Market. They’ll be there every 3rd Sunday showing you step-by-step recipes for transforming your super fresh local produce into family dinners, easy salads, yummy smoothies, and more. Even if farmers markets aren’t always convenient for you to attend all the time, I think it’s something you should try to do at least once in a while. It’s just such a great chance to speak directly to farmers and talk story with them and get to know them. So when you see their produce at your favorite Down to Earth store, it’ll be like buying from a friend. Here are a few local farmer profiles to start you off: Ko Farms, Iii’ili Farms, and Oko’a Farm.

Do you try to buy local? What challenges or benefits are there for you? Please share with us in the Comment section of this online article!

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