A new Web site, Illinois Farm Direct (illinoisfarmdirect.org) can help consumers find fresh, locally grown food by listing cooperating farm locations around Illinois. At the Web site, visitors can search by entering their zip code and then displaying contact information and products sold by Illinois farmers who sell directly to consumers.
More than 500 farmers are listed for the entire state, said David Onstad, University of Illinois associate professor of natural resources and environmental sciences. Among the various products sold directly to consumers include blackberries, eggplants, veal, organic heirloom potatoes, duck and goose eggs, organic vegetables, leaf lettuces and more.
Almost 200 farmers markets in Illinois are listed on the site, too.
Food products directly from farms are thought to have more taste, more and different varieties than grocery stores, and can be fresher. Also, many of the farmers who participate in this site use sustainable or organic practices preferred by some consumers.
In a local market, consumers have more power when they communicate with farmers encouraging them to grow your favorite foods in an environmentally and socially sound manner. With this Web site, we give power to people to make farming less about price and more about the natural and social communities in which you live, said Onstad.
A printed version of the Farm Direct locations and Illinois farmers markets is also available. Each of the more than 700 public libraries in Illinois will have information about the Web site and one copy of the printed guide. The guide can be purchased directly, too, by sending a $3 check, made payable to The Land Connection, to The Land Connection, P.O. Box 197, Goodfield, IL 61742-0197. Please include your address.
Others who can comment on issues related to organic foods and sustainable agriculture include Terra Brockman, The Land Connection, Terra@mtco.com, 309-678-2672 and Laurence Mate, Prairieland Slow Food, firstname.lastname@example.org, 217-356-6828.