This is my favorite time of the year. Farmers' markets are starting to fill up with the first harvests of the year - baby greens, rhubarb, collard greens, kale, asparagus, and strawberries. And I'm anxiously awaiting the first delivery of my community supported agriculture (CSA) share. I love getting fruits and vegetables that are really fresh - probably picked a day or two before making it to my plate. I enjoy meeting and supporting the local farmers who are growing my food.
Increasingly more and more people are shopping at farmers' markets and participating in CSAs. Eating local food has become such a popular notion that big corporations like Frito-Lay are touting the farmers who grow their potatoes. But, like so many other food trends, will the idea of eating local food fade away? Hopefully, not! Our planet can no longer support our fossil fuel driven food system that has most of our fruits and vegetables traveling an average of 1,300 miles from farm to fork.
Not only is local food better for the environment, but it has exceptional taste and freshness since it is picked at the height of its ripest. If you have ever eaten a local tomato in August and compared it to one flown from California or Mexico in December, you know what I'm talking about.
In these challenging economic times, we are all looking to save money and reduce our spending. Local food tends to be less expensive because the travel costs are drastically reduced and if you buy directly from the farmer you cut out the extra "middle man" costs.
Local food is full of life's vitality, energy and nutrients. As soon as fruits and vegetables are picked they begin to lose their nutritional value. Since local food is picked riper and travels a shorter distance, it does not lose as many nutrients as produce that travels thousands of miles from other states or countries.
It takes a little more effort to add local food to your diet, but you will reap the rewards of superior taste, more nutritious food, a stronger local economy, and a healthier planet.
Here are 5 ways that you can buy and eat local food:
1. Shop at your local farmers' market.
2. Visit the local farm stands in your area.
3. Join a CSA (community supported agriculture). Locate a CSA at http://www.localharvest.org.
4. Encourage your local grocery store, natural foods store, and area restaurants to purchase products from local farmers.
5. Grow your own food in your backyard or community garden.
© Angela C. Davis, 2009, All Rights Reserved.