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Discovering locally grown foods with your family allows an opportunity to teach your children about where their food comes from.

It also teaches them about the importance of supporting local agriculture and understanding what it takes to plant, grow, and harvest food.

Explore ways to expose your children to locally grown foods in a fun and engaging way. Visit local farms that let children walk through the fields and pick produce. Walk through farmers markets and visit with the local farmers asking them questions about the produce or animals that they have. These experiences will increase the likelihood that children will try new foods and establish healthy eating habits.

Local food systems in Nebraska range from vegetables, fruits, honey, grains, beans, meat, eggs, etc. A broad definition of locally grown foods is foods that are grown within a reasonable distance from where it is eaten. This distance depends on the food product and the consumer’s definition of local food. Local "food miles" in Nebraska can include distances across towns, counties or state wide.

The demand for locally grown produce is on the rise. Consumers most often state freshness, food safety, supporting the local economy, and knowing where their food comes from as main reasons to buying locally grown foods. There are many places and ways you can buy locally grown foods. Places most frequently shopped for local produce include grocery stores, farmer's markets, CSAs and farm stands directly from producers. Below are 7 ways to help you discover locally grown foods.

1. Grocery Stores

The Nebraska Grocery Industry Association publishes the Farmer Goes to Market e-newsletter.

This unique e-newsletter, directed to retailers, offers statistics and studies that provide answers for consumers at the local level. Reconnecting Farmers and Retailers, in this manner, is filling a gap that can help consumers earn trust in the food supply.

Read the Nebraska Farmer Goes to Market Newsletter >

2. Farmer's Markets & Farm Stands

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture has a great website that you can search by market name, city, or by county to determine a Nebraska Farmer's Market and Produce Vendors in your community.

Here are 12 Reasons for Visiting a Farmers Market from UNL Food.

3. Schools

Many Nebraska urban and rural school districts are doing a great job bringing locally grown foods to their schools. Learn more about how schools, parents, and farmers can bring Farm to School by using the resources in this guidebook, developed by Center for Rural Affairs Organization.

4. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Here are the basics: a farmer offers a certain number of "shares" to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers buys a share or a membership and in return receive a bag of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. Here is a list of some of the CSAs in Nebraska.

5. Local Restaurants

Edible Omaha features restaurants that emphasizes using locally grown foods. This list is specific to Omaha but there are other restaurants statewide that are actively purchasing and preparing locally grown foods.

6. Buy Directly from Farmers

Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska, is another excellent resource to help consumers connect with local farmers in their communities.

7. Plant a Garden

Children love being able to dig, plant, water and pick foods from a garden. It's a great way to enjoy the great outdoors as a family. If you don't have room or a yard for a traditional garden you might want to consider Container Gardening. Registered Dietitian Cindy Brison shares some ideas on how to Garden with Kids.

Carrie Miller MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Carrie Miller is a mother of two and Registered Dietitian with a Master degree in Nutritional Science and Dietetics. Carrie has worked at UNL Extension in Omaha for over 12 years managing the Nutrition Education Program and teaching limited resource audiences. Special interests include feeding children healthy, fun foods, and finding time to get outside and be active. Learn more about Carrie and the other UNL Extension nutrition experts at NutritionKnowHow.org. ...

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