So, what can you do to ensure that more of your food dollar is actually paying for food and making its way back to the family farmer? Go straight to the source! Through farmers markets, roadside stands, CSAs and even internet-sales, look for increasingly available opportunities to shorten the food chain and buy direct.
Support domestic fair trade. Groups like Equal Exchange are well on their way in developing a domestic version of the international fair trade program that guarantees fair prices and a living wage for farmers.
Look for local food in restaurants and supermarkets. In general, the farmers’ share of food purchased in restaurants is less than if you were to buy the same food from a supermarket and cook it yourself (and, as I’ve just noted, the farmers’ share of many supermarket goods can be quite small). But if you are buying or making meals made from locally sourced food, sold directly to the restaurant or grocer by family farmers, you can cut a number of links from the food chain and, in turn, ensure more of your money is making it back to the local farm economy.
And, finally, buy fresh, unprocessed, unpackaged goods. Not only do these foods have fewer additives and packaging, making them a healthier choice for you and the environment, they have less added distribution and marketing costs, saving more of your food dollar for the farmer and your own personal pocketbook.