In pursuit of optimal green techniques, I've completed a two-month long investigation into sources of local, organic food in the DC area. The food I sampled was excellent, and I ate edaciously. During this investigation, I visited numerous local farms and grocers, in order to find the closest access to fresh, high-quality, inexpensive, organic ingredients.
I discovered that raw, organic milk, eggs, beef, chicken, turkey and honey are available from various farms only 15-20 miles away from my home in Northern Virginia. I discovered that the largest selection of local, organic food is available at one store (The Common Market in Frederick, Maryland). It is only a 20 miles detour on my usual travel route. That detour, in fact, greatly reduces the overall distance those foods travel, and thus substantially increases my access to fresh food.
I based my meals on the local ingredients I obtained, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and other readily obtainable items.
So what are best sources for local, organic foods in the DC area, or in my case, Northern Virginia?
Farmers Markets are certainly readily accessible, but they are seasonal, and they only open on particular days. CSAs are also good but require subscriptions and delivery co-ordination. So what I've focused on is local, organic grocery stores. The best grocers I found were: Food For Thought (Culpeper, Virginia), The Home Farm Store (Middleburg, Virginia), The Common Market (Frederick, Maryland), The Natural Marketplace (Warrenton, Virginia), and The Natural Mercantile Store (Hamilton, VA). Some Whole Foods stores are starting to stock a few local food items such as cheese and honey.
All the stores mentioned have friendly staff and the stores are well-presented. (If I've missed any, please let me know).
Some notable local organic farms in Northern Virginia are:
- Hedgebrook Farm (Stephens City, VA): Raw Organic Milk, Eggs, Beef, Lamb, Goat, Turkey, Chicken
- Smithfield Farm (Berryville, VA): Organic Beef, Pork, Bacon, Veal, Lamb, Eggs, Honey
- Endless Summer Harvest (Purcellville, VA): Hydroponic Lettuces, Basil, Sorrel
- Ayrshire Farm (Upperville, VA): Organic Heritage Beef, Pork, Chicken, Turkey and Eggs
- Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship (Purcellville, VA): Organic Vegetables, Lamb, Lamb Sausage, Chicken, Eggs and Heritage Turkeys
- Blue Ridge Dairy (Leesburg, VA): Fresh Mozzarella, Ricotta, Feta, Mascarpone Cheese, Yogurt
- Twin Oaks Community Foods (Louisa, VA) : Organic Tofu and Tempeh
- Cibola Farms (Rixeyville, VA): Organic Buffalo, Goat, Pork, Chicken and Rabbit
See also this previous article on Local Harvest (a web site to help you find local food sources).