Absolutely nothing beats the taste of fresh healthy food grown close to home, except buying food grown close to home and knowing you’re supporting a local farmer and business.
Other than for great tasting food, there are a number of reasons to shop local and support your local farmers.
Help Protect the Environment
Shipped on trucks and trains, our groceries can travel hundreds or even thousands of miles before they reach the grocery store shelves, and eventually our dinner plates. Shipping items adds to pollution, requires the burning of great amounts of fuel, and means more garbage from necessary packaging materials.
Buying from local sources means you lessen this environmental impact.
Know Your Food
Sourcing your grocery items from a local farmer means you have the opportunity to see the farm and know where your food comes from. My kids love this. There’s something about driving up that long farm driveway, seeing the animals, the crops growing right in front of you, being outdoors, and selecting and loading brilliantly coloured produce into your car that makes you feel good about what you’re eating. My kids will always go to the farm, but they never beg to go to the grocery store.
It also means your food is fresher – chances are it’s been picked or processed within hours of your arrival. Farm markets pick produce at the peak of ripeness, unlike most produce that travels great distances. That means you get better flavour and better nutritional value from your food.
Support Local Family Farms
It’s no secret that small local farmers are struggling and losing the battle against larger farms and corporations and are decreasing in numbers. Buying your fruits, vegetables, meats and other goods from smaller farmers markets supports small family farms, puts money back in their pockets, and helps to preserve an alternative way to shop for consumers. It also means the money stays in your own community.
If there’s one thing we’ve seen recently with this global pandemic, it’s that we need to learn to rely on ourselves, and we need to learn to make our own, grow our own, produce our own, buy our own. Borders have closed, high demand has strained the supply chain, and shopping at the larger grocery stores surrounded by so many other shoppers has become a potential threat to our health.
Purchasing goods from a local farm or farmers market can help save these farms, allows them to continue providing goods to consumers, and provides a safer, healthier alternative for us.
It’s Not All Fruits & Vegetables
Shop around. Check online to see what’s available in your area. Chances are you’ll be surprised to find out you can get so much more than just fruits and vegetables from your local family farms. So many of them provide much more than that: baked items, a variety of meats, dairy products of all kinds, preserves, honey and syrups galore, and a whole lot more.
Heck, maybe you’ll find that that trip to the grocery store isn’t even necessary anymore.
Most importantly, have fun with the food you can get. Many farms provide produce boxes where you get a variety of fruits or vegetables pre-selected and packaged for one flat price. Maybe your box will contain something you’ve never tasted or cooked with before – try it! Try a new recipe, find a new favourite food.
Eat a rainbow.