Califonia Bountiful

Guest Commentary: A food-buying strategy that works

July/Aug. 2011 California Country magazine

Colleen Cecil
Butte County Farm Bureau Executive Director

Colleen Cecil and son Clayton

Everyone has an opinion on how I should buy food for my family. "Buy local, buy organic, buy only from farmers you know." The list goes on and on. All are great suggestions, but not always easy to accomplish. I could spend all my time researching farms, food, farmers, stores, farmers markets, coupons and weekly ads and reading the numerous blogs, tweets and posts that exist on the topic.

I have found a food-buying strategy that can be used in any shopping environment—grocery store, membership warehouse or farmers market—that works for my family: Buy in season first, buy local second, buy California-grown third and, finally, buy American-grown.

It's simple and straightforward and I can do this wherever I want to purchase my food. This strategy also works because I trust the farmers producing food for my family and me. Furthermore, this strategy ensures that I have the privilege of buying food from the safest and most affordable food supply in the world.

If I am buying in season, I know I am buying when food is at its freshest and most abundant.

If I am buying local, I know that the distance the food traveled to get to me is an advantage.

If I'm buying California-grown, I know I am supporting the state's economy.

And if I am buying American, I am putting my hard-earned dollars to work in our country.

You might ask yourself, "How can I trust these farmers that I don't know?" It's impossible to live our day-to-day lives without a little trust. I trust the paper will be there each morning in the driveway. I trust the person changing my oil will put the cap back on the oil pan. And I trust farmers. After all, they, too, have families to feed.

I will acknowledge that living in California does come with its advantages—more than 350 advantages. That's the number of crops we grow here. But the strategy can work in any state and in any growing region.

This simple approach allows me to do less worrying and more of what is important—living life to the fullest.

Colleen Cecil is a farmer's wife, a mom and the executive director of the Butte County Farm Bureau. She can be reached at

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