Buying local food benefits both you and your community. When you buy local food you
- Reduce your food miles. The fewer miles your food has to travel, the less environmental damage occurs.
- Eat fresher food. When you buy at farmers markets and farm stands, the food is usually picked that day or the day before. When you buy local food at the grocery store, it's still fresher than the food that's been shipped hundreds of miles.
- Eat better tasting food. Ever wonder why the strawberries you get from the local farm taste so much sweeter than the ones you buy in the middle of winter at the grocery store? To get strawberries to your store in the middle of winter (unless you live in a climate where they grow all year long), they are picked before they are ripe and force ripened along the trip to your store. It makes a big difference in the taste.
- Eat more nutritious food. Food loses its nutrients as it sits around waiting to be shipped and then on the long trip to your store. Fresher food not only tastes better, it is better.
- Financially support local farmers. According to sustainabletable.org, when you buy food in a grocery store, about 3.5 cents of each dollar you spend makes it to the farmer. When you buy directly from the farmer, 80-90 cents of each dollar you spend makes it in the farmers pocket.
- Preserve open spaces. In the South Jersey region, when a farm closes and the land is sold, it invariably becomes a cookie cutter development or worse, the parking lot for a big box store. I can imagine that's the same all over the place. By putting money into the farmers' pockets, you're helping to keep the farm running.
- Help the environment. When farmland is turned into a suburban development or a parking lot, lots pollution occurs, lots of critters lose their homes and lots of traffic starts pouring in. Open farmland is good for the environment.
- Preserve genetic diversity. There are hundreds of tomato varieties out there, but you're grocery store only carries a handful of them. Go to the local farmers market, and you'll find dozens of varieties. Why? Some tomatoes "travel" better than others. Some varieties of tomatoes just can't survive the difficult trip over hundreds of miles. Because of this, large scale farms only grow a few varieties. Local farms can grow the less hardy varieties because they don't have to travel far to get to you. If the local farms go away, we could lose genetic diversity in crops.
- Give animals a better life. Local food isn't limited to fruits and vegetables. Most small farms that raise animals for meat treat their animals more humanely. They feed them the food that is natural for them to eat and give them room to roam around. When you buy locally raised meat, you help to support this type of meat production instead of the cruel factory farms.
- Get inspired. Once you get a taste for local foods, chances are you'll want to grow a little of your own in a container garden or a full fledged garden. Or, you'll look at that butternut squash on the table at the farmers market and say, "hmmmm. I've never made butternut squash before, but I think I'll give it a try." You'll try things you've never tried before.
Labels: environmentalism, local markets, support local