There are few things I enjoy more than wandering the weekly farmers markets and watching the farmers, with their weathered faces, proudly handing over food that came from the land that they’ve cultivated. In recent years it has become increasingly apparent to me the importance of buying from these local farmers, not only for the conversation, but for your health too.
Why buy local?
When buying local you can expect exceptional freshness and quality. Several studies have shown that the average distance that food travels from farm to plate is 1500 miles and that it can take a week or more for the food to reach your table. In that time the sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, nutrients are lost and the vitality of the produce is diminished. Produce picked within a 24-hour period is crisp, full of vital nutrients and loaded with flavor.
Local food taste better and are better for you. There’s nothing like the taste of fresh food right off the vine, out of the ground or out of the oven and shopping at local markets will assure that you get the tastes that you’re looking for. And because there is a shorter time gap from farm to plate those precious nutrients are still abundant and can maximize your health.
Local foods support local family farms. Local, sustainable farms are a dying breed. When the farmer is able to sell directly to the customer and bypass the middleman they are able to take home the full retail price of their commodity. This means that they can then afford to continue farming and doing the work that they love.
Buying local also supports the local community. Keeping your dollars circulating within your community strengthens and encourages local growth. It also builds a relationship between you and your farmer based on an understanding and trust; as well as an insight into eating with the seasons, understanding the weather, and miracles and challenges that come with growing and raising food.