By Dave Whitney, Produce Buyer, Co-op Owner
In our modern age of food preservatives and additives, genetically altered crops and E. coli outbreaks, people are increasingly concerned about the quality and cleanliness of the foods they eat. Given the impossibility of identifying the pesticides used and the route taken to grow and transport, say, a banana from Central America to our local supermarket, foods grown locally make a lot of sense for those who want more control over what they put into their bodies.
Farmers who sell directly to local consumers need not give priority to packing, shipping, and shelf-life issues and can instead, according to John Ikerd, “select, grow and harvest crops to ensure peak qualities of freshness, nutrition and taste.”¹ Eating local also means eating seasonally, he adds, a practice much in tune with Mother Nature.
Eat Locally Grown Food for Better Health
Local food is often safer. Even when it’s not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about dousing their wares with chemicals. Small farms are also more likely to grow more variety, says CNAD², protecting biodiversity and preserving a wider agricultural gene pool, an important factor in long-term food security.
Eat Locally Grown Food to Reduce Climate Change
Eating locally grown food even helps in the fight against climate change. The average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there. Buying locally produced food eliminates the need for all that fuel-guzzling transportation.
Eat Locally Grown Food to Help the Economy
Another benefit of eating locally is helping the local economy. Farmers on average receive only 20 cents of each food dollar spent, the rest going for transportation, processing, packaging, refrigeration, and marketing. Farmers who sell food to local customers receive the full retail value, a dollar for each food dollar spent. Additionally, eating locally encourages the use of local farmland for farming, thus keeping development in check while preserving open space.
Shopping regularly at GreenTree, our local farmers’ markets, and purchasing a CSA share from a local farmer are the best ways to connect with locally grown food and, as we see, local is better in many, many ways. This week (6/11-6/17) GreenTree has on hand 22 local, organic produce items, next week (6/18-24) we expect that number to rise to around 30 items with increases in local, organic choices happening throughout summer.
¹ John Ikerd, retired Agricultural Economist
² Center for the New American Dream