Here’s how to make groceries from local farms
Think about the last meal you cooked? How was it?
I think most of us agree that we all want something local, healthy and tasty — and buying in a way that’s better for the environment
To some, that may sound impossible. But Kate Estrade begs to differ.
She co-owns Local Cooling Farms — a 16-acre property on the Northshore where she and her husband, Grant, raise livestock including pigs, cattle, chickens and goats. They also act as a distributor for more than a dozen other local farmers and producers — selling approximately 100 items from milk and jam, to ice cream and vegetables.
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So excited to be getting back to neighborhood farm hubs this week! . Algiers Point — our first hub 3.5 years ago — you’re up first! 💚 . And there’s lots of products we’ve added since we were last there in March! . Check out the whole cart via the first link in our bio. . Select “pick up” and then “Algiers Point Farm Hub” from the drop down list. . And we’re still doing pick ups at your shop in Metairie, every Tuesday through Saturday. Order via the same cart and select “Laughing Buddha Nursery” as your pick up. . Let us know if you have questions. See you tomorrow! . . . . . #farmfresheggs #pasturedeggs #freshfromthefarm #grassfedbeef #pasturedchicken #localgroceries #eatlocal #homecooking #goodfood #groceries #shoplocal #shopsmall #shopsmallbusiness #localgrocery #makingroceries #farmtotable #local #food #supportlocal #farmfresh #farming #veggies #market #produce #louisianagrown #louisiana #neworleans #nola #followyournola
When the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States in March, restaurants were forced to close. Reports from across the country explained that, as a result, American farmers no longer had places to sell their products. This was not the case for Kate and Grant.
“I think more and more people are beginning to see how important local food is,” Kate said.
And that’s not just a hunch. After the pandemic hit New Orleans, the farm’s mailing list (click here to subscribe) skyrocketed from 1,100 members in early March to 1,700 just a few months later. Their sales in May were 175% higher than a year earlier.
While Kate acknowledges there may be several reasons for their uptick in business during the pandemic, she feels it ultimately comes down to trust.
“Usually when you go to the grocery store, you don’t know where that food is coming from or how many people are touching it. During a pandemic, people care about that” she says. “But when they buy from us they can look me in the eyes and can ask about my values. They trust that I’m selling healthy and high-quality food because that’s what I eat and that’s what I care about.”
It’s those values that Kate says motivated her and Grant to open Local Cooling Farms in the first place.
“We didn’t want to be a food system that exploits workers, animals and the environment,” she said. They started the farm because they knew they could play a small part in creating something that was better, and certainly kinder. “We want to restore our ecosystem instead of depleting it.”
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Their farm’s name reflects that desire. Instead of following the processes of many larger farmers that lead to higher carbon emissions and global warming, the Estrades practice regenerative farming. This style of agriculture seeks to find a more natural balance. By allowing animals to roam and graze, their waste helps to replenish the soil and put carbon back into it.
“In our own small way, we reverse climate change instead of contributing to it,” Kate explains.
Grant opened his gardening shop — Laughing Buddha Nursery in 2003 to help locals with their organic farming needs. He met Kate in 2010 and they purchased what would become Local Cooling Farms four years later.
By 2016, Local Cooling Farms was producing a significant quantity of eggs and their first cuts of pork. They sold them at their shop to their gardening customers and it was a success. But they soon had a realization that would set their business on the path to what it is today.
“We realized that we’d probably sell more eggs and pork if we had other offerings like local vegetables to sell, as well,” Kate said. “We know people prefer to buy everything they need at one place.”
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She said they wanted to make it a one-stop shop for locally produced groceries. They purchased products from local producers for resale alongside their own items.
Today, a quick visit to the Local Cooling Farms order form reveals approximately 100 items available from more than a dozen local producers: eggs and a wide variety of pork products from their own farm; steak and lamb from Opelousas, shrimp and fish from Montegut; beets, eggplant and okra from Mississippi; as well as locally produced jelly, cream cheese, pasta, mushrooms, ice cream and more.
In the early days of the pandemic — as supply chain failures and panic-buying led to empty grocery shelves — customers said they were thankful to find Kate and Grant could provide what they needed. A longer-term positive is that these new customers said they have discovered how easy it is to purchase food from local producers — and how good it feels.
“Not only can you get it all in one place,” Kate said. “But, unlike a grocery store, you know exactly where it’s coming from. You know that the way it’s being produced is good for the environment. You know the food is more nutritious, and it tastes better. I think that’s why customers stay with us.”
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How To Try It
We wanted to see just how easy the process of buying and supporting local producers is. Here’s a guide on how to try out what Kate and Grant have to offer.
It’s worth noting that buying local, healthy food can sometimes be a little more expensive, but when we asked Kate about it, she brought up some really good points.
“Rather than asking why local food is more expensive, maybe we should ask how food that comes from larger farms can be so cheap,” she said. “These farms can save money by indiscriminately spraying chemicals on their crops instead of taking the time to be exact, but that leads to environmental degradation. They can save money by keeping less animals in less space and not giving them room to roam, but is that how any of us think animals should be treated? They can save money by harvesting crops early and letting them age as they ship across the country on trucks and trains, but that makes them less nutritious when you eat them. And they can save money by recruiting migrant workers to labor on their farms — paying them less to work in unhealthy conditions, but is that how you think employees should be treated? Local farms are much less likely to engage in these practices, and isn’t it worth spending a little more money to support a food system aligned with your values?”
Of course, it’s your money, and the choice is yours! But if you want to order from Kate and Grant, here’s how you do it:
Go to their order form and fill up your cart. As you choose items, you’ll see it populate on the right side of your screen as shown in this screenshot:
Here are a few important things to consider when you order:
- While you can order in advance, Kate suggests waiting to order until the evening before — or the morning on the day of — that you want to pick up your groceries. This will ensure your order is as fresh as possible, and that the order form (which is updated every evening at 5 p.m.) will reflect any new items available.
- Once you’ve placed your order, DO NOT PAY until you receive an invoice by email. This is because — just like at a grocery store — there are slight weight variations in the packaging of meat. (Not all cows are the same size.) The price reflected on the order form is the price for the average weight of that item. When you receive your invoice that day, however, it will reflect the exact price and weight of your order. Once you receive your invoice, you can pay.
Okay, now that those are out of the way, here are the three ways you can purchase your next batch of groceries from Local Cooling Farms:
- Pick up your order at Laughing Buddha Nursery in Metairie
Annnnd, that’s it! As long as you purchase your groceries online by 2 p.m., they’ll be available for you to pick up that day (Tuesday through Saturday).
Picking Up Your Groceries
Once you click on the checkout button, you’ll be able to choose pick-up or delivery. For this option, you’re choosing pick-up.
Next you’ll choose the day you want to pick up your order.
- Pick up your order at a neighborhood delivery hub
If you don’t feel like making the trek to Metairie, Kate will bring your order to one of their neighborhood delivery hubs. They currently have bi-weekly pick-ups set up in the Bywater (at Parleaux Beer Lab), Mid-City (Second Line Brewing) and Algiers Point (Beatrix Bell Handcrafted Jewelry), as well as in Mandeville. And hubs in the Irish Channel or Uptown and Broadmoor are coming soon, as well.
Follow the same instructions you used for Option 1, above, but choose the delivery hub location you’d like. Then — once the dates have been determined — you will see the pick-up dates available to you at that location.
- Get your groceries delivered to you
Or maybe you’d rather not leave your house at all. That option is available, too. Take a look at the second screenshot, above. Instead of choosing Pick-Up, select Delivery and pick the day you’d like your groceries delivered. (Delivers are made every Saturday as long as your order is placed by 10 a.m. that day.)
Once you make your order, Grocery Cat will contact you to let you know exactly when your food will be delivered. Their service is a $15 flat fee, and they’ll notify you about payment options.