Breaking Down Barriers to Local Food

A graphic of a shopping list with a light blue background and lattice pattern

To the uninitiated or unfamiliar, eating locally can feel daunting. Between knowing where to go for local food and determining what is seasonal and when, it can be hard to know where to start.  

During this year’s Eat Local Challenge, we’re here to help! Bon Appétit teams think about these questions each and every day. Our Farm to Fork commitment means that our teams are required to source, at a minimum, 20% of their ingredients from small, owner-operated farmers and makers within 150 miles of their kitchens. They’re constantly exploring their local food systems and figuring out how to rustle up the freshest local products.  

So, to help you break down barriers to local food, our teams have created handy shopping guides, pre-filled with items from farmers and makers near them. Our guests can use the shopping guide and follow the tips and tricks below to make eating locally a breeze. 

Take Small Steps Big changes begin as small steps. Use our shopping guide and look for local products in the grocery stores, or community co-ops you shop at regularly. Not seeing local produce? Ask the store manager if they will consider buying from local farmers.  

Get to Know Your Local Food System Use the USDA’s Local Food Portal to find farmers’ markets, farm stands, and even local food hubs! Not finding anything near you? Look for a Buy Fresh Buy Local chapter in your area, or simply use Google or another search engine to search for local food around you. 

Join a CSA If you’re ready to take eating locally to the next level, consider joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program offered by a farm near you. As a CSA member, you receive a generous box of fresh produce each week throughout the growing season.  

Grow Your Own If you would rather grow your own food, try watching videos from well-respected gardeners like Charles Dowding, or alternatively, read an introductory book on gardening. Depending on your location, you can try in-ground gardening in a back yard or shared community garden. Potted gardens and even windowsill gardens are also a great start!