By Kim Lachance Shandrow, Tecca
Are you a locavore yet? You are if you make it a point to eat foods sustainably grown, baked, and raised in your local community. There are lots of rich green, leafy reasons to eat local. It’s is easy on your body, your budget, and the environment.
What’s not so easy? Knowing which fruits and veggies are in season, nailing them down nearby, and properly preparing them — never mind growing them yourself. Then there’s picking apart which neighborhood farmers markets and co-ops sell hormone-free dairy, meat, and poultry.
Get a head start today with these five smart locavore apps for iPhone. They’ll help you blend more grass-fed, heirloom, and free-range eats into your diet, from the farm to the fork to the canning jar. (Well, except for the eating part; that’s all you.) Dig in below.
Download: Locavore for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
Locavore, a colorful app powered by Local Dirt, makes it easy to find, buy, and cook nourishing foods that are organic, in season, and grown on small family farms in your area. It supplies you with customized daily updates on your favorite fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy. It also lets you know who produces them and how environmentally responsible their farming, packaging, processing, and shipping practices are.
The tastiest Locavore features? One-click access to thousands of healthy, delicious seasonal recipes and a fun Facebook tool for swapping them with local (and faraway) foodie friends.
2. California Certified Farmers Markets
Download: California Certified Farmers Markets for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
When you buy fresh food from your local farmers market, you pour your hard-earned grocery dollars directly into your community. You also get more flavor and nutrients from your produce.
This basic app helps Californians do both. It plugs them into the California Federation of Certified Farmers Markets’ well-maintained database of 750 farmers markets. Many sell reasonably priced, locally sourced produce, meat, poultry, baked goods, flowers, and plants.
Does the neighborhood certified farmer’s market sell daikon radish? How about raw milk? Find out, and get both in time for dinner by searching the app by region, county, or city. The app takes the guesswork out of where and when to shop close to home and also provides updates on market closures due to rain (like it rains much in California?!).
3. Farmers Market Finder
Download: Farmers Market Finder for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
Don’t live in California? Try this reliable, 10-state farmers market finder app instead. Interactive maps and turn-by-turn GPS directions lead you to area farmers markets and other locavore suppliers. Nearby pick-your-own farms, roadside produce stands, and Community Supported Agriculture networks (CSAs) are in the bunch, too.
It shouldn’t be too hard to locate farmers markets in your region, even without this app — not with some 7,175 of them throughout the United States to choose from, according a recent USDA report. There’s bound to be one near you.
4. Harvest — Select the Best Produce
Download: Harvest for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
How can you tell if a Crimson Sweet watermelon is ripe and juicy without slicing into it? (Hint: Knock, knock!) Are Hass avocados ready to eat when they’re green or black? Are peaches tinged in a reddish blush perfect for the picking?
Harvest has all the answers, and they’re presented quite beautifully. Each helpful text and photo tip offers just enough detail for at-a-glance reference (which comes in handy when you’re juggling your iPhone and a giant grapefruit). This searchable reference app helps you remember dozens of tricky techniques for picking the freshest, yummiest fruits and vegetables. Use it at the farmer’s market (or in your own edible backyard) to properly paw, squeeze, and, yes, whiff like an expert produce picker.
How can you keep your perfectly picked Brandy Wine tomatoes fresher longer? Harvest has you covered there, too, giving you storage suggestions for all 120 listed fruits and vegetables. You’ll know which ingredients to refrigerate and which to keep on the kitchen counter and for how long.
If only Harvest could sniff-test your produce to see if it’s rotten (so you don’t have to). The app does protect you from pesticides, though. Environmental Working Group-provided pesticide residue profiles for each included fruit and veg help you steer clear of harmful chemicals. (Buy organic instead and skip them altogether… if you can afford to.)
Download: Canning! for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad
When you can’t gobble up all of your precious produce in time, please don’t let it rot. Do what your grandmother did — can it instead. Yes, people still can fruits and vegetables. In fact, more and more people are doing it in these tight times. You can, too.
Simplify the tricky task with Canning!, a humble how-to app that demystifies the age-old preservation ritual. It walks you through the steps and supplies necessary for safely canning, jarring, and dehydrating hard fruits, soft berries, and veggies.
Our only complaint? There’s not a single photo or schematic to be found. Good thing the directions are so richly detailed and encouraging, or we’d be lost at Step 1. Canning is complicated. Canning! makes it less so, even without the pretty pictures.
Think globally, eat locally
Here’s to eating lots more fresh, wholesome locavore foods. And here’s to the apps make you want to do it. So, go on — nibble on ingredients grown in or around your home town. You’ll pollute less, walk more, and get to know the locals. And the list of benefits goes on.
Now off to the nearest farmer’s market with you! Don’t forget to pack your reusable grocery bags and your iPhone. And, remember, as Elizabeth Berry said, “Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They get jet-lagged, just like people.” Indeed they do.