Bloomington is for (Slow) Foodies

Stranger's Hill Organic's stand at the Bloomington Farmer's Market.

Bloomington is a special place. Really. I mean it. There are so many good things about living in this town. The visual and performing arts scene is happening. There are fantastic ethnic restaurants. You can get a great cup of coffee in many restaurants and coffee shops. There is a community-supported cooperative grocery store called, what else, Bloomingfoods (http://www.bloomingfoods.coop/).

One of the things I have come to appreciate most about Bloomington is the commitment of its citizens to the community at large. For instance, there is a significant constituency who is committed to supporting local farmers and sustainable agriculture.  The size of the Bloomington Farmers Market is evidence of this (http://bloomington.in.gov/farmersmarket). The market runs on Saturday mornings nearly year round (yes, even in the winter!) and provides access to locally grown produce, grains, meat, eggs and cheese. In the spring months, you can also buy heirloom seeds and seedlings to plant in your own garden, and many vendors sell landscape plants. Several restaurants in town are even committed to purchasing food from local farmers: Lennie’s, FARM bloomington, Laughing Planet Cafe and Upland Brewing Company are just a few.

Having access to locally grown food has fundamentally changed the way my family eats. Now when I go to the grocery store, I don’t have to buy produce flown in from thousands of miles away. And I am more comfortable with the quality of the meat we eat because I have visited the farm (just 3 miles from my house) where the animals are humanely raised. My family eats more in tune with the seasons…this means no watermelon in January; we eat that in the late summer months when it’s offered by local farmers. It might seem that we have to sacrifice to eat this way, but in fact I have found the seasonal, local produce I do buy is more fresh and flavorful. My kids are even eating more veggies with less complaint.

If you are interested in local and sustainable food, it’s easy to get connected in Bloomington. There’s a Local Grower’s Guild (http://www.localgrowers.org/) and you can also find a number of community supported agriculture (CSA) groups that provide weekly deliveries of fresh produce, grains, and animal products. Initially, I found many CSAs through http://www.localharvest.org/, but I have been a CSA member of LIFE Farm (http://lifefarmcsa.com/) for the last three years. They provide a weekly basket of freshly picked, seasonal produce from mid-April through the end of October.

If you love food, Bloomington is a great place to live!