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Local Food: Get Connected and Creative!

Your Co-op makes it super easy to identify local foods in our stores: look for the purple tags and you will find products that were made in Wisconsin or within 150 miles of the State Capitol building. If you look at the tags, you can find out a little more: such as whether the product was 100% made and sourced in Wisconsin, or if you are purchasing a product that that was produced here but sourced from elsewhere. Finding local products is only part of eating local. Knowing what to do with those products and connecting with the people behind the products are other aspects of being a local consumer. Here are some resources you can use to prepare your local food, purchase local food, and learn about your local food suppliers.

Produce Availability Guides
Ever wonder when your favorite fruits and vegetables are most likely to be locally sourced? We have a produce availability guide you can pick up for free in our Owner Resources Areas at the stores and online at The online version allows you to filter for produce available during certain months or to search by produce item and find out which month or season you can find it locally. (See page 10 for a list of the many local fruits and vegetables available locally.)

Simply Local Store Tours
This month, we’re adding a new free class to our Simply line called “Simply Local.” The classes are a half-hour, including a brief overview of what local means at your Co-op and store tours with tips and tricks to finding products connected to our local economy. Visit our Community Calendar in the Reader or online at to find out more.

East and West Co-op Cooking Classes
Some of the classes scheduled in September also have a local flare: Kids in the Kitchen on Tuesdays will focus on “Harvest Treats” from the garden, and the local edition of our Healthy Eating on a Budget class will return as well. Details are also available on our Community Calendar both in the Reader and online.

FairShare CSA Coalition Cookbooks
We’ve had these cookbooks for quite awhile, and they are still worth mentioning and re-mentioning! From Asparagus to Zucchini and Farm-Fresh and Fast are two great books to keep on hand to spark your local food creativity. From Asparagus to Zucchini is a nationally acclaimed alphabetical catalog of local and seasonal produce storage, prep, and cooking tips. Farm-Fresh and Fast builds on the lessons from their earlier book, with tips for ingredient substitutions, master recipes, theme menus and farm fresh cocktails. All recipes are designed with speed in mind and were developed locally. Purchases of the books provide FairShare CSA Coalition support for their nonprofit programs that connect farmers with eaters, such as Partner Shares, which “provides financial and educational assistance to limited-income households to purchase CSA vegetable shares” and the CSA Healthy Rebate Program, which allows health insurance providers to give cash rebates to members for purchasing CSA vegetable shares. You can find out more about the cookbooks at

Edible Madison
A complimentary magazine we carry in-store, Edible Madison is a quarterly publication of the Edible Communities publishing network. Their mission is “to promote that eating locally is good for our economy, environment and health, and to connect eaters with local, organic food sources.” Columns include “Cooking Fresh,” “Frugal Locavore,” “Now in Season” and more features where you can learn how to use local ingredients and learn more about where your ingredients came from. Their website is another great free resource for archived articles, recipes and seasonal eating.

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day
According to author Leanne Brown, “during their local growing season, fruits and vegetables are generally cheaper and definitely tastier than outside of season.” Available at the Co-op and on her website,, her cookbook Good and Cheap is designed “for people with very tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP[FoodShare] benefits.” You can purchase the published, full-color paperback book for $16.95 or download the PDF version of the book for free. The book is priced so that copies of Good and Cheap can be distributed for free or at a discount to organizations that work with families that have low-income. Since publishing, more than 156,000 copies of the book have been given to charitable purposes due to individual purchases of the book in stores nationwide. The recipes were created to cost an average of $4 per person based on national pricing statistics and the assumption that fruits and vegetables are “roughly in season, when you can get the best deals.” The recipes are also “flexible, and encourage substitution based on availability, price, and personal tastes.” While the book itself is not completely about local eating, it does have some emphasis on seasonality and may be helpful to anyone looking to eat more locally as well as affordably.

Where the Locavores Go Coupons
Looking for local savings at restaurants, farms, retail stores, or other businesses committed to our local food system? Consider purchasing REAP Food Group’s Where the Locavores Go Coupon Book. For a $10 purchase, you get access to coupons that save you over $400 while eating, drinking, and shopping local. Underwritten by Heartland Credit Union, “sales of the book benefit [REAP’s] Buy Fresh Buy Local program, which connects farmers, chefs and diners to support local food.”

5 Minutes on the Farm
Looking for something to listen to on your way to the store or in the kitchen while you prep your local foods? Check out Julie Garrett’s new “5 Minutes on the Farm” podcast from WORT 89.9 FM Community Radio. These brief interviews invite you to “Cultivate a relationship with your food and the farmers who feed us, and discover what’s fresh and in season in Southern Wisconsin.” Many of her podcasts feature Co-op suppliers. You can find the archives at, and sometimes we also share the podcasts on our Facebook page.

Around the Farm Table
If you’d rather watch than read or listen, you may also want to check out Wisconsin Public Television’s Around the Farm Table. Episodes feature Wisconsin farms such as Co-op suppliers Wisco Pop, Driftless Organics and Hidden Springs Creamery. “Around the Farm Table is dedicated to connecting consumers to small, thoughtful producers through storytelling, forgotten recipes and entertainment.” You can find archived episodes and recipes at

Questions About Eating Local? Please ask!
If you’re shopping at the store, browsing the farmers’ market, or deciding what to order at a local restaurant, feel free to speak up and ask questions! Our Co-op staff, food vendors, farmers and others in the Dane County food community are here to help you feel better connected to your food, where it came from and how it was made. We love having conversations about food and community and would be more than happy to extend that conversation to you. Happy local eating, everyone!

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