A locavore is someone focused on eating food grown in their local community. Many people want to eat local because it is fresher, it supports local businesses, and it is often better for the environment. Most food found at your neighborhood grocery store traveled long distances to get there. You can find blueberries from Chile, beef from Honduras and even tilapia from China. By visiting your local grocery store, you wouldn’t realize that agriculture is a billion dollar industry in Arizona. So where can you get all that local food?
If you can’t grow your own produce, keep chickens for eggs, or raise cattle for beef, then the best place to find these local items is a farmer’s market. Almost every major city in Arizona has a farmer’s market. If you’re looking for a market in a particular city, the Arizona Department of Agriculture offers a good reference here. You can find all sorts of local items and get to meet the people who produced them. Farmer’s markets are a good place to find grass-fed beef, pastured pork and poultry. There are many farms throughout Arizona that produce these products and come to the farmer’s markets to sell them. These farmers want to raise meat the natural way: slow growing, eating their natural diet, and in a humane environment. The end product is far superior to anything you can find in your local grocery store.
Visiting Local Farms
If you are interested in knowing where your food comes from I highly recommend visiting a local farm. There are many farms throughout Arizona that welcome visitors. You can see exactly where your food came from, meet the farmer who raised it, and buy directly from that farmer. Some farms offer CSA programs where you pay a fee to the farmer and they provide you with a guaranteed amount of seasonal food each week. You can get a variety of foods from a CSA, depending on what the farm offers.
We have visited several unique farms throughout Arizona. Eatwild is a great resource to find local farms. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Singh Farms is tucked away in Scottsdale just off the Loop 101. Here they grow fresh produce, raise chickens and turkeys for eggs, and even have bee hives on site for honey. They carry locally made products, such as breads, condiments, and cheeses. They also carry Hayden Flour Mills flour, which is the only grain grown locally and sold locally that we are aware of. Singh Farms is also well known for their compost, which they make on site and you can purchase by the truck load. One of the best parts about visiting Singh Farms is walking through their grounds. Their 20 acres are canopied by desert trees, which shade uniquely placed vegetable gardens. You can also visit the chicken and turkey coops to see where your eggs were produced. When walking through Singh Farms it’s hard to believe the Loop 101 freeway is just a few feet away. It’s definitely a refreshing escape in the busy desert.
- Fossil Creek Creamery is located just north of Payson in Strawberry. If you like goat milk products then this place is not to be missed. Not only can you sample their delicious products, but you can meet the goats! The goats are very friendly and come right up to the fence to greet you. They offer tours on Saturdays as well as a petting zoo. Their goat cheese is the most delicious we have ever tasted. Most retail goat cheese has a very strong aftertaste, but Fossil Creek’s goat cheese is mild and creamy. You can tell it is made fresh from high quality goat milk. In addition to goat cheese they also offer fudge, caramel, yogurt, and soap, all made from fresh goat milk.
- Located 45 miles south of Tucson in Amado is Walking J Farm. Walking J produces a variety of foods including organic produce, pastured eggs, grass-fed beef, pastured pork and poultry. They sell their products at farmer’s markets in Tucson and you can also visit their farm on Saturdays. When we visited, one of the farmers, Tina, treated us with a tour! We got to meet the pigs, turkeys and chickens, marvel at their 1.5 acre garden, and learn about farm life. We left with a better understanding of where our food came from and some delicious grass-fed beef. It’s a great experience to visit a working farm and get to meet the farmer.
Whole Foods and Locavore Restaurants
If you can’t make it to a farmer’s market or to a local farm, then you can always go to Whole Foods. Whole Foods stocks a variety of food items from all over Arizona. We have found produce from Willcox, beer from Sedona, and goat cheese from Snowflake. There are also many restaurants around Arizona that offer meals prepared with local foods. You can find several in the Phoenix metro area as well as other major cities around Arizona.