From Seed to Table: Why it Matters Who Grows Your Food

By Jessica Campbell, MS, FNTP

How often do you think about the hands that nurture your food from seed to table? In our bustling lives, it's easy to forget that every bite represents more than just nutrition; it's a connection to the earth, to livelihoods, and to stories that often remain untold. 

Buying food from a grocery store and online shopping are the most convenient and inexpensive ways to get food (see my Healthy Food Buyer's Guide to get the best deals). Yet, these methods lack the positive aspects of getting food directly from the source, which I’d love for you to explore with me here. 

Buying food directly from the source may seem daunting at first, but I’d like to demystify it for you, because it’s actually quite accessible once you know where to start. 

This doesn’t need to be an all or nothing approach, but I bet there is one change you could try. Whether it be a farmer’s market visit or an order online from a local farm, I’ve included some of my favorites below. If you’re trying to make a difference in the grocery store, here are words I look for when deciding where to spend my money. 

Why is it important to know who grows your food? 

When you support local farmers and ranchers who use sustainable practices, you’re doing good for your body, your community, and the planet. 

Knowing who grows your food is important for many reasons. 

  1. Sustainability. If you’re like me, you want your children and their children to be able to live and thrive on the planet with plenty of food for generations to come. Supporting farmers who adopt sustainable and environmentally friendly farming practices is a great first step.  
  2. Local economy. Choosing locally-produced food gives a boost to the community, creates jobs, and weaves stronger ties among neighbors and communities. 
  3. Nutrition. Often, food loses its freshness and quality during long trips and storage. Knowing your food's origins ensures you're getting the freshest, most nutrient-packed sustenance. Getting your hands in the dirt through gardening or volunteering at a farm can introduce you to healthy bacteria that’s good for your gut.
  4. Personal connection. Engaging with local farmers nurtures a sense of community and a deeper respect for the sweat and toil behind our meals. It adds a human touch to the whole food production process, making us truly appreciate the hard work that goes into feeding our families.

Which one of these points matter most to you?

Who grows my food? 

If you’re local to the San Francisco Bay Area, you may want to check out some of my favorites:

Using the innovative, carbon-storing methods of regenerative ranching, Erik and Doniga Markegard, with their four children, are restoring the land they tend, bringing native grasses and wildlife back to the depleted Bay Area. 

The family has been featured in the Netflix documentary Kiss the Ground. Doniga is also a wildlife tracker, speaker, and author of Dawn Again and Wolf Girl

On over 70 acres in Pescadero and San Gregorio, California, Blue House Farm grows an incredible diversity of certified organic vegetables, fruits and cut flowers year-round. Since 2005 they’ve been proudly supplying farmers’ markets, Farmstand,  U-pick, and wholesale accounts with some of the highest-quality produce available. 

Established in 1944, Schoch Dairy makes real Monterey Jack cheese made right in Monterey County. They’re one of only a few family dairies remaining in the area.  John Schoch and his 3 sons not only produce artisan quality farmstead dairy products, but they have also been focused on maintaining their legacy of land stewardship. Milking less than 80 purebred Holstein cows, the Schoch family have held true to their commitment to “quality over quantity”. 

This is a group of like-minded fishermen, farmers, and community members looking to bring positive change to the food system. Their goal is to bring food that is traceable to the source only from California, directly to your door. 

They encourage interest in local and seasonal food by offering weekly CSA-style shares of the freshest available, sustainably harvested, traceable, local food. 

More amazing local food producers:  

Where can you get locally grown food? 

Whether you’re in California or not, there are many resources to buy directly from holistic farms where the animals range free on pasture and actually improve the soil. By supporting your local ranchers and sustainable practices, you can make a positive impact on your health and the planet.

Community Supported Agriculture

The easiest way to ensure you have seasonal, pesticide-free foods is to support community-supported agriculture (CSA). You pay a farm ahead of time for a weekly box of fresh produce, meat, or prepared foods. Then depending on where you live, you either pick up your box at a specified location, or they deliver it to your door. 

As I mentioned in the Healthy Food Buyer’s Guide, you can find a list of CSA farms by state, by visiting

Farmer’s Market

Looking for a farmer’s market near you? The US Department of Agriculture has a National Farmers Market Directory, or check out this tool from LocalHarvest. 

Local Producers

To find your local ranchers in your area, check out the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Guide to Finding Local Food or the Edible Communities of your region.

  • Imperfect Foods partners with farmers and producers to help save ugly produce, surplus items, and more from being wasted. 
  • Farm Fresh to You allows you to order online and get organic produce delivered to your door. Whether you want fresh fruit or vegetables, you can customize your order and add other farm products like hand-crafted jams, pasture-raised eggs, dairy, artisan olive oil, or small-batch honey. 
  • Thrive Market is an online grocery store that offers a plethora of organic and sustainable products. 
  • US Wellness Meats is owned and operated by family farms. Their pasture-raised meats are raised with regenerative agriculture methods.  They ship to all 50 states. 
  • Butcher Box works directly with local farmers and suppliers to source high-quality naturally raised products delivered directly to your door. 
  • Sena Sea delivers wild Alaskan fish straight from Alaska’s diverse marine ecosystem, not a fish farm.

Want to read more? I recommend the book Farmacology by Daphne Miller. She reveals the surprising ways that the ecology of our body and the ecology of our farms are intimately linked. She also shares lessons learned from inspiring farmers and biomedical researchers along with stories from her patients into the narrative. 

Just as a seed takes time to grow into a thriving plant, it takes time to change our eating and buying habits. Start small and choose one way you can support a local farmer–whether its’ buying a few items of produce at a farmer’s market, signing up for a vegetable CSA, or finding a local rancher from whom you can buy meat, eggs, or dairy. Or, try out one of the online options listed here that appeals to you. 

You can make a difference in the health of your family and the earth by purchasing local–and you’ll get so many more benefits as well. 

Please reach out if you have questions or need help finding where to start. I’ve been on this journey for at least 15 years and I hope to share my passion for locally sourced food while meeting you wherever you are along your path.