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Here’s What I Totally LOVE….
Foods that are locally grown have a vastly smaller negative impact on the environment. The amount of energy necessary for say…organic lettuce to be grown in California then cleaned, packaged and shipped to where I am in the Panhandle of Florida is ridiculous. Buying something that was trucked in from 35 miles up the road expends far less natural resources to get from where it was grow to my plate. This means buying local has a much better carbon footprint – less energy is expended getting it from its source to the plate. Imagine what the carbon foot print is on foods imported from around the globe? Those fresh blueberries you are eating in NYC in December? Yeah, they came from someplace like Peru. HORRIBLE carbon footprint, just horrible.
Buying directly from growers cuts out the middle man and I have a DIRECT impact on a family business. My money pays for Julie’s piano lessons, and puts gas in the family car. I’m not plowing money in to a multi-million dollar corporation that is pinching the low end laborers so that its shareholders can get a better fiscal return. I’m a Mom & Pop sort of gal and this feeds my desire to support small businesses. This scenario is true of all small local businesses. Please, I urge you, support more Mom & Pop operations and stop buying at the mall.
Higher quality. The longer the foods stay on the vine the better they are. PERIOD. Unripe fruits and immature veggies are picked when they are still hard and unyielding so that they are less likely to get damaged in shipping. For fruit especially, this means that the natural sugars and qualities of the food we love are not going to be as good as ones that are picked on a Thursday or Friday just before ripening and on a table at the market 24-36 hours later. Local food is just better because it gets to mature to its fullest potential, the way nature intended, before it is removed from its life source. Eating foods in season is key to giving your body what it needs NOW.
In addition to farmers there are usually small cottage industry businesses (jellies, jams, salsa, soaps, honey, breads, etc). Many of these items have a longer shelf life and allow us to buy from them and share with others. When I travel I ALWAYS bring local food gifts to whoever I’m staying with. It’s a great way to help promote local business in other areas and help them potentially increase their internet sales.
Community. The market is a great place to run into your neighbors, catch up, chat, maybe do a little networking. Economically and socially diverse, it’s a great melting pot for all. We are all so obsessed with our devices it’s great to get OUTSIDE, be in nature and meet with other humans face-to-face. If you play your cards right you might even get a HUG. Imagine THAT! Your iPhone can’t hug you but that handsome man you met at a party a few weeks ago might be very happy to see you.
But here is the ONE HUGE misconception about your local farmer’s market…
Just because it’s local does NOT make it automatically better for you.
There, I said it.Buying local does not guarantee organic, only local. Click To Tweet
There is a HUGE misconception that everything grown locally is organic. NOTHING could be further from the truth. NOTHING. Unless the entire market bills itself as an organic market you have to ask every single one of the vendors if they grow conventionally (with pesticides, herbicides and chemicals) or if they use organic practices in their cultivation of food.
Here’s where it gets sticky for THEM. In order to be CERTIFIED as an organic farm they need to go through a ridiculously long and expensive process to do so. The average small farmer cannot afford the bureaucracy so even if (s)he is using organic practices to grow food, they cannot put the word “ORGANIC” on their signage unless they are “CERTIFIED” by the government.
I know, RIDICULOUS, right?
BUT, if you ask them what kind of growing methods they use, and if they are in fact participating in organic growing practices, they will be thrilled to tell you all about it, I guar-an-tee.
Many of the farmers at my market use conventional practices, but there are two in particular who don’t use any chemicals in the cultivation of their produce and I purchase exclusively from them. Sometimes the items they have aren’t “picture perfect” but I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for optimal nutrition and health. An ugly cucumber doesn’t affect my willingness to buy it. For many, that’s a deal breaker.
So here is the bottom line. If organic is important to you (and it should be especially if you are following AIP), be sure to ask each of the farmers/vendors what their growing practices are. If you are comfy with conventional practices or your you have some budgetary constraints, then the entire farmer’s market is great for you for every single one of the reasons I mentioned above.
Local does not automatically mean “better ” across the board. It has it’s perks for sure, but organic is super important as well. Root out who has the organic stuff and buy from them. THEN you are getting the best of ALL worlds. But please, stop making the assumption that it is ALL GOOD because it’s all local. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Hope this helps.