“Local” is the new buzz word. However, this is a good, sensible trend. A trend, unlike crocodile skin handbags, that has environmental, health, taste, and economic benefits. When you buy local, you support the economy around you. Farmers markets allow farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. In return, this money is put directly back into the local economy. Local food is often cheaper too.
Food grown closer to home has to travel less. Local food is picked when ripe (and flavor and nutrient levels are highest), and can be bred for taste rather than easy transport, attractiveness, and ability to adjust to adverse conditions. Ahh FRESH! Also, food grown locally tends to be less processed, so it’s healthier. When food has to travel long distances to get to your supermarket, they are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides to withstand the long trip. If the produce is from a different country, it could even be sprayed with chemicals that are banned from the United States because of the health risks involved with ingesting these chemicals. Furthermore, once a fruit or vegetable is picked, it slowly loses its vitality, nutritional value and enzymatic activity. Frequently, local farmers, even those who are not certified organic, use far fewer chemicals and more sustainable practices, than larger farms. “Common sense farming” is much healthier to sustain than large-scale farming. All incidences of food poisoning outbreaks have occurred from large industrial farms!
Going local is easier than one thinks, but it does require you to be a bit more conscious. I am not a hardcore locavore, but I do what I can. I still use spices from India, drink coffee and tea harvested in a faraway land, and enjoy Italian wine. Though, I do try to buy everything possible at the Farmers Market or local stores that support local producers (i.e. We Olive).
These are the easiest ways to join the Local movement and be amongst the cool and trendy:
1. Shop at the Farmer’s Market
2. Participate in a Community Supported Agriculture.
3. Grow your own garden or participate in a community garden program.
4. Visit a farm and pick your own fruits and veggies.
5. Look for the “Local” signs in your grocery store and try to make the best choices.
6. Share a Table: Invite friends and a few strangers to a local-food potluck.