Eating Local During COVID-19

MEEL Nashville Food Kit

At this moment in time, we find ourselves living through a situation that is touching and changing all of our lives.  First and foremost, I hope everyone is taking every measure to stay safe and healthy. 

Like most people, when it became clear that we would need to stay at home for the foreseeable future, I planned a trip to the grocery store.  I assessed what was in my pantry and made my list with the intent to use some of the beans and grains that have been taking up residence there for awhile.  During my drive to the grocery store, I felt anxiety about what I would find when I got there. Would I be faced with bare shelves?  That anxiety prompted me to look into other ways to access fresh, local food without having to worry about the grocery store.  

Fresh Vegetables
Fresh ingredients in MEEL meal kit.

While stocking up on nonperishables is always a good idea, you can still find fresh produce, meat and other items at the “essential” farmers markets near you. Even though our lifestyles are changed while we work our way through this, we can still eat fresh, healthy food and support our local farmers and artisans while doing so. Growing season is upon us and soon fields will be bursting with lettuces, mushrooms, cabbages, radishes and more. Farmers markets are staying open to shoppers willing to social distance and most vendors allow you to pay digitally, avoiding contact. Markets are also implementing a preorder option allowing you to select your produce from the farms of your choice. Time to meander through the market isn’t a luxury we have this spring, so if you venture to your market, shop safely and be courteous to those around you. Find a farmers market near you using the Love Local search tool.

Another option to eat fresh food and support a local farm is to join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. CSA programs give you access to everything a farm of your choice produces. You pay for a half or full growing season and receive a basket of fresh produce each week. Some include dairy, meat, bread and other artisan products as well. Find a farm near you that offers a CSA program on Love Local.

Love Local Founder, Jen preparing a MEEL recipe.

Meal kit services are a growing trend and there are some companies working exclusively with local farms to create farm fresh, healthy and uber local meal options. Some of these companies also feature online marketplaces where you can grocery shop from local artisans and farms.  Our very own, MEEL, a Nashville, TN based company, offers meal kits comprised of sustainably grown food from local farms, complete with recipe cards and eco-friendly packaging.

Tennessee native, Marti Emch, founded MEEL to bring farm fresh produce to the dinner table in an easy, approachable way.  Her vision resulted in home-delivered meal kits offering a recipe coupled with seasonal, locally sourced produce, locally raised meats and sustainably sourced seafood. From salmon bowls to chicken and white beans, every recipe is easy to make and the food is beautiful and fresh. 

Over the years, MEEL has diversified by offering an online marketplace for locally grown and locally made food items and a CSA for those who want to receive a weekly box of local food from Nashville area farms.

Salmon bowl recipe by MEEL.

Here are some of our top picks for meal kit services and online marketplaces that are uber local around the country:

Austin, TX Lettuce

Atlanta’s Garnish & Gander

San Diego’s Farm Fresh Meals

San Francisco Bay Area’s Good Eggs

Nashville’s MEEL

Austin, San Antonio, Houston, or Dallas Farmhouse Delivery

New York City’s Local Roots

Whether you want a night off from cooking or you’d like to make a plan to get farm fresh produce without going to the grocery store, there are many options available. I hope you’ll take advantage of these options to support your local community farms.

Wishing everyone a healthy and safe spring.

Author Details

Jen Culler Liepis

Jen is the founder of Love Local.