Now is the time to support your farmers markets and take advantage of nature’s bounty. Here are some of the reasons why:
1. Saves gas. Produce isn’t being shipped all over the country (or world) to get to your grocery store. Most vendors are with 100 miles of the farmers markets that they attend. Therefore it also cuts down on pollution. The average distance our food travels is 1,500 miles, mostly by air and truck, increasing our dependence on petroleum. By buying locally, you conserve the energy that’s used for transport.
2. Less packaging. You will notice that your household garbage produced from food wrapping/boxes/containers will be greatly reduced.
3. Freshness and peak flavor. When you buy closer to home, it just plain tastes better and you feel a connection with the local organic farmers. Plus it’s more nutritious, since local produce is sold right after it’s picked.
4. Local food preserves genetic diversity. Large commercial farms grow a relatively small number of hybrid fruits and vegetables because they can tolerate the rigors of harvesting, packing, shipping and storage. This leaves little genetic diversity in the food supply. Family farms, on the other hand, grow a huge number of varieties to extend their growing season, provide eye-catching colors and great flavor. Many varieties are “heirlooms” passed down through the generations because of their excellent flavor. Older varieties contain the genetic structure of hundreds or thousands of years of human selection and may provide the diversity needed to thrive in a changing climate.
5. Local food supports local farmers. The American family farmer is a vanishing breed – fewer than 1,000,000 people (less than 1%) of Americans claim farming as a primary occupation. It’s no wonder – it’s hard to make a living when you get less than 10 cents of every retail food dollar. By buying locally, the middleman disappears and the farmer gets full retail price, in turn helping farmers continue to farm.