Buying local food

The easiest way to support local food systems as a consumer is… by eating local food! In most areas, it is becoming easier and easier to find local foods.

Be sure to check for community supported agriculture farms in your area on our Iowa CSA Directory page.

Here’s a video from our Community Food Systems team outlining procurement considerations for both farmers and buyers (2020, 15:14).

Here are a few other ways to find local food near you:

Farmers markets

buying local food table
A farmers market is a fixed location where producers sell agricultural products directly to the general public. Products can include fresh fruits and vegetables, honey, eggs, meat, dairy, baked goods and grains. Find a directory to Iowa’s farmers markets on this page, maintained by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

A CSA membership is a subscription to a weekly delivery of fresh and local produce. CSA members pay for an entire season of produce up-front. This allows farmers to start the season with some capital to invest in inputs (seeds, equipment, etc.) In exchange, CSA members receive a weekly share of the farmer’s crop throughout the growing season. To find a CSA near you, check out this continuously updated Iowa CSA Directory page on our website.

Online ordering

Order local food online from the following organizations and businesses:

Cedar Rapids Downtown Farmers Market
Clear Lake Farmers Market
College Hill Farmers Market (Cedar Falls)
Decorah Farmers Market—order via Iowa Food Hub
Farm to Folk (Ames area)
Iowa Food Cooperative (Des Moines area)
Iowa City Farmers Market—partnering with Field to Family
Mason City Farmers Market
Waterloo Urban Farmers Market
Waverly Farmers Market

Food hubs

buying local food boxes

Food hubs are businesses or organizations that manage the aggregation, distribution and marketing of local foods. They provide important services for small and mid-sized farmers. These can include marketing local products, brokering volume sales and coordinating distribution logistics. They can help producers meet industry requirements in areas such as food safety and packaging. Food hubs can specialize in wholesale (to institutions, groceries, etc.) or retail (to individuals). They may be organized as for-profit, non-profit, cooperatives or something in between.

Lean more about food hubs on our Food Hub resource page. Look for a hub in your area on our Iowa Food Hub Directory page.

Find more information and a map of Iowa’s food hubs on this page of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s website.

Click here to see the USDA’s current listing of food hubs.

Online directories

Statewide: Use the Iowa MarketMaker website to locate suppliers selling just what they need. Search for anything—the nearest supplier of organic chick peas, specialty mushrooms or seasonal fish from anywhere in the US. Producers can also use the site to list their available products or employment opportunities. And wholesale buyers can use MarketMaker to find more suppliers of differentiated, high-quality products. This can lead to more efficient sourcing and higher profit margins.

Iowa Organic Resource Directory (2018, updated 2020)

Northeast Iowa: Iowa Fresh Food

North Iowa: Healthy Harvest of North Iowa

Northwest Iowa: Flavors of Northwest Iowa

Waterloo/Cedar Falls area: University of Northern Iowa Local Food Program Find Local Food

Iowa Valley (Linn and Johnson counties): Field to Family

Des Moines area: Eat Greater Des Moines

Practical Farmers of Iowa’s Local Food Directory

Southern Iowa (Creston area): Southern Iowa RC&D Find Local Foods

Southwest Iowa: Southwest Iowa Food and Farm Initiative Local Food Guide

Southeast Iowa: Eat Fresh Southeast Iowa Producer Directory

Back to Resources for consumers

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