Are you in the market for fresh, delicious food? The Jefferson County Local Food guide (in print or found at (ccejefferson.org/local-foods) points you to the freshest and best tasting food — grown and produced by your neighbors. Shop at the locations listed and help keep your food dollars circulating in our local economy!

The farms and businesses in the guide have assured us that they sell food they have raised themselves or food they have produced themselves using largely local ingredients. In addition to their own food, these farms and businesses may also sell food that is not locally grown or produced. When shopping for local food, feel free to ask, “Did you grow this yourself?” You may also be interested in and want to ask about farming practices and procedures. Here are a few to get you started:

n CSA: Some farms offer a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) option. Consumers can purchase a share of the farm’s harvest at the beginning of the growing season and then pick up a box of freshly harvested produce each week throughout the season. Click here for more information on CSA’s.

n Certified Organic: Certified organic farms have met USDA standards for organic food production as verified by an accredited agency such as the Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY (NOFA-NY).

n Conventional: Producers use all available strategies and inputs in their production of food.

n GAP: The Good Agricultural Practices audit verification program focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that farms are producing, handling, and storing fruits and vegetables in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

n IPM: Integrated Pest Management is a sustainable approach to managing pests by combining biological, cultural, physical, and chemical tools in a way that minimizes economic, health, and environmental risks.

n Additional Certifications: Farmers follow a wide array of agricultural practices. Many farmers participate in certification programs that comply with strict quality requirements including third party audits. These high standards may apply to growing practices, animal treatment and handling practices or environmental practices. This site lists those growers who comply with additional certifications. Ask them about their certification and practices.

And finally, here are some helpful tips for buying local:

n Respect the farmer’s home. Many farmstands are on farm property and may be close by the farmhouse. Please be respectful and avoid letting pets or children wander as there may be delicate crops, equipment, and animals nearby.

n Be prepared with cash and change. Many farmstands are cash-only and may use the honor system for after-hours purchases so you may not be able to receive change for larger bills from the farmer.

n Bring your own bags and if produce is in a pint basket or other reusable containers, many farmers will greatly appreciate it if you return or leave those containers to be reused.

n Keep in mind that different farm stands may have different hours. Many farmstands do not operate on Sundays.

n Contact farmers in advance if you are unsure of their location or operating hours in inclement weather.

n Shop earlier in the day when produce will be at its freshest and more variety may be available.

n Wait to sample until you have a chance to rinse produce under running water as unwashed produce can play host to bacteria that can make you sick.

CCE is excited to welcome you back to farmers market and farm stand season. Although there are year-round options to buy local, this time of year is especially fervent! Enjoy!

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County is at 203 N. Hamilton St., Watertown. Contact the Extension office at 315-788-8450 or find out more online at http://ccejefferson.org/.

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