Live, Eat, Local is more than just a tagline for Idaho Preferred; it’s a commitment to our agricultural community, local Idaho economies, and best of all, our taste buds. Making a conscious effort to seek out and purchase Idaho’s diverse selection of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and nursery items when in season is a smart choice for many reasons, not the least of which is flavor.
“Seasonal Eating” isn’t new; it’s been happening since the earliest forms of farming by eating what is on hand, ripe, and ready to enjoy. Purchasing local, in-season produce is one of the most proven and beneficial choices we can make.
Idaho’s agriculture is diverse; over 25,000 farms and ranchers produce more than 185 different commodities, making us the third-largest agricultural production state in the West. With such an abundance of farm-grown Idaho food, finding a wide variety of seasonal eating options has never been easier.
5 Tips on Why to #LiveEatLocal with Seasonal Eating
- Seasonal Nutrition
Our body’s nutritional needs change with the seasons. For example, in the winter, our bodies need higher amounts of vitamin C to help prevent and fight infections such as the flu or cold. Winter in-season produce like citrus, broccoli, and potatoes, is naturally high in vitamin C and other vitamins our bodies need more of in the winter when the sun tends to shine less often. Conversely, produce that is typically in season in the summer, like carrots, spinach, kale, and cantaloupe, tends to be higher in beta-carotene to help our bodies protect against sun damage.
- Think Local
Seasonal availability largely depends on where you live. What’s available in one region of Idaho can be very different from what might be available in another, offering a beautiful variety of seasonal options.
Knowing what’s in season in your region is vital to intentionally find and buying locally grown, raised, and crafted food while supporting local farmers, businesses, and your own backyard. When you purchase goods from local businesses, $68 for every $100 stays in the local economy, versus just $43 when you purchase from a non-local business.
- Indulge in the Flavor
Produce grown in the ideal time and place yields the tastiest, most nutritious fruits and vegetables. Idahoans are fortunate to have a wide variety of tree- and vine-ripened fruits and vegetables there for their choosing. While Midwestern states farm 127 million acres, 75% of the crops grown are corn and soybeans. Idaho’s arid climate, warm days and cool nights, and lush volcanic soils produce an impressively diverse selection of fruits and vegetables to satisfy even the most finicky eaters. (We grow corn and soybeans, too.)
- Explore New Foods
Have you ventured through the produce section and ever wondered “what in the world is THAT?” Seasonal eating takes the monotony out of your menu planning by forcing you to explore different seasonal foods and produce. It’s an incredibly fun way to discover new favorite snacks and menu items.
So the next time you’re out and about and see an unusual, new fruit or vegetable, give it a try and spruce up your meal routine. Who doesn’t get excited to find a new favorite?
- Community Supported Agriculture
CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture, refers to a farming business offering “shares” of its farm business. CSA subscribers are everyday consumers who purchase a share of the farm’s bounty up front, helping the farmer absorb the initial planting and maintenance costs of growing the crops. In return, consumers enjoy periodic deliveries or pick-ups of a broad variety of in-season, freshly grown, and harvested local produce.
By subscribing to a CSA you are: supporting local farmers, and agriculture in your area, allowing yourself to experiment with new and different veggies and fruits, eating in season, and consuming more fruits and vegetables year-round. Check out this link to find a CSA near you.
Not ready to commit to a CSA? You can still find and support local agriculture by shopping at farmer’s markets, or directly from a local farmer. Many of our members offer direct online ordering. Click here for a link to our Farmers Markets directory.
Other regional options include:
- In the Treasure Valley, you can join REKO Boise, Nampa, or Meridian on Facebook. Numerous local farms, like Vogel Farms, Wissel Farms, Red Top Market, and Peaceful Belly are a short drive away.
- In the Wood River Valley, check out Kraay’s Market & Garden.
- In Twin Falls, try Blue Rock Farm Market.
- For those of you on the breathtaking eastern edge of Idaho, there’s Slow Food in the Tetons.
- Love Your Economy –
Agriculture remains a fundamentally important part of Idaho’s economy, communities, and way of life. It also contributes significantly to the state’s economy:
- 2018 Agriculture Cash Receipts: $7.4 billion
- Processed Food and Beverage Sales: $8.4 billion
From potatoes to beef to salad greens, fresh fruits, sweet corn, cheese, craft beer, and wine, Idaho produces quality products to feed the world and fuel our state’s people and economy. Together, agriculture and food processing generate 28% of Idaho’s total economic output in sales and 13% of GDP.
As you intentionally choose to eat local, know that you’re contributing to Idaho’s growing agricultural economy, and supporting small businesses, food crafters, ranchers, and farmers. And best of all, you’re getting the most flavorful and nutritious foods to enjoy the way nature intended – fresh and fully ripened.