Last year, I identified four major food trends that were forever changing grocery stores. In that article, I talked about the revival of butcher shops and shopping at farmers’ markets. In late February, the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. and we shut down our country in hopes of avoiding a large death toll.
The sudden changes in the way we live and purchase goods led to an immediate strain on grocery stores and online retailers as people began stocking up on goods they felt were essential.
Fast forward 10 weeks and we’re now facing new issues as our food supply chains become taxed due to plant closures and logistical issues. In less than four weeks, the price of meat is up 5-10%, the price of eggs is up 16%, and fresh produce such as fruit and vegetables are quickly rising.
In the early days of the shelter in place order, I recommended people start shopping more locally; creating relationships with local homesteaders, farmers and meat producers so that they had access to food as I knew the supply chain would develop many issues. The benefit to the farmers and ranchers was obvious, another income source as the wholesale business channels were drastically shifting and/or drying up altogether. So where does that leave us as of today?
Community supported agriculture has gone mainstream overnight and people are buying dairy products and meat directly from meat producers, and farmers markets (if they’re allowed). They have lines of cars waiting full of people willing and wanting to buy whatever they can get their hands on. The COVID-19 crisis has made the slow progression of alternative, local food movements the new consumer norm.
In my opinion, the desire to purchase meat, dairy and produce is here to stay as the impact of COVID-19 has forever changed consumer behavior (both now, as well as for the next three years as our country develops new ways of living).
While direct to consumer sales can’t offset the loss of large wholesale accounts, it can –- and is –– helping ranchers, growers and producers keep money flowing while they wait for bailout money, loans, and possible grants to come in.
I wanted to expand upon my shopping piece for finding food locally to call attention to farms and ranches that grow food in and around the Seattle area (most of which are in the Snohomish and Snoqualmie valleys). If you live in the Seattle area and want to source produce locally, here are some of my favorites:
- Carleton Farms: They operate a seasonal market that offers meat, baked goods and berries.
- Falling River Meats: Darren runs a top-tier butcher shop that offers pork, beef, lamb, chicken, goat and other avian meat from local ranchers and producers. They also make the best raw dog food in the state.
- Eds Apples: Ed’s Apples starts to produce fruit in July. They start by offering blueberries and peaches and then move into many varieties of apples in the later summer and fall.
- Jubilee Farm: Julie Farm offers a year round CSA program, as well as offers pasture raised pork and beef.
- Chinook Farms: Located in Snohomish, they offer amazing grass fed beef.
- Bob’s Corn & Country Store: Bob’s offers a country market/farm stand that is open later summer and fall. You’ll find non-GMO crops, cider and baked goods. They also make the coolest maze and have family activities.
- Mountain Blueberry Farm: They are open July through September, you go and pick your own blueberries!
- Carnation Farms: It’s a year round farmstand (home of Falling River Meats) that offers seasonal produce, local dairy and eggs, grains and meat. You can stop by anytime and purchase.
- Local Roots Farmstand: An awesome little farmstand located in Duvall that offers seasonal vegetables. They also offer a veggies CSA.
- First Light Farm: First Light offers a veggie CSA for Seattle area families. Their u-pick is currently closed.
- Cherry Valley Dairy: If you want fresh and local, it doesn’t get any better than Cherry Valley. Their cheeses, butter, milk and cream are sold at a variety of locations around the Eastside. You can also email them for direct orders.
- Sno Valley Co-op: Probably one of the most comprehensive CSAs in the Seattle area. The summer and fall are currently filled but reach out to get on the winter list.
- Off The Branch: Off the Branch is a small farmstand in Woodinville’s wine country that offers cider, apples and eggs.
- Steel Wheel Farm: Amazing quality pork and beef. Subscribe to their protein CSA.
- Stoffelfarm: Located in Arlington, they offer custom pork cuts, gourmet sausage and bacon.
- Local Yokels: Local Yokels is an online grocery store for Seattle area residents. They source locally produced goods from local farmers and deliver it to your doorstep!
Other Washington Farm & Food Resources
If you’re looking for farmers markets or farms outside of the metro Seattle area, there are several resources available. Here’s a list that covers most of western Washington and a few parts of eastern Washington.
- Savor Snoqualmie Farmstand Guide
- The Farm Guide From Tithe Alliance
- The Female Farmer Project Washington State Farm Guide
- Whatcom County Food & Farm Finder
- Skagit Valley Farm Map
- Bow-Edison Food Trail
- Washington Artisan Cheese Map
- Seattle Farmers Markets
As the current crisis continues to change the way we live, do business, and even think about how we’re living, starting to purchase goods and services more regionally is something that is here to stay. Support local farms and producers with the dollars you invest. And if you’re a farmer, rancher or producer that hasn’t explored direct to consumer sales, it might be the perfect time.