When you’re shopping for the ingredients for your fabulous Thanksgiving feast, do you stop to consider where that food comes from? Giving thanks to your local farmers is just one of the great reasons you should buy local this Thanksgiving. LetÕs take a look at the other 4.
SEE ALSO: 5 Ways To Eat More Local Food Every Day
Locally grown food has less distance to travel before it hits your table. It was probably picked within the last 24 to 48 hours and at its peak of flavor. That means it’s sweet, crisp, and delicious. Contrast that with the week-long journey of 1,500 miles that most produce travels to market. That delay between farm and table means that the plant cells shrink and lose their crispness and sugars start turning to starches. In order to allow for the long delay between farm and table, produce also has to be picked before it reaches that peak of flavor.
2. Locally grown food promotes biodiversity.
Biodiversity is important for creating healthy food systems. Industrial agriculture focuses on productivity, not biodiversity, and these four main areas when choosing which “product” to grow:
They have to be high yielding and all ripen simultaneously.
They have to stand up to the harvesting and packing equipment.
They have to have a tough skin that will survive shipping.
They have to last a long time on store shelves.
Only a handful of varieties, usually hybrids, meet these criteria.
In contrast, local farmers choose varieties because they taste good. They also grow many more varieties in order to spread the season out as far as possible. Remember, they’re not trying to strip their fields all at once and be done with them. Many of them also enjoy growing some of the more unusual or colorful varieties. After all, your small local farmer is a gardener at heart.
Many of the varieties grown by your local farmer are heirlooms that have been passed down for generations because they’re uniquely adapted to the local soil and climate. Heirloom varieties contain unadulterated genes that are hundreds, or even thousands, of years old. In a world of hybrid and GMO foods, these unaltered genes are a vital resource.
3. Locally grown produce is healthier for you.
Fresh produce quickly loses nutrients. In fact, frozen or canned food often contains more nutrients than “fresh” produce because it was processed soon after it was picked. Contrast that with the long cross-country, or even worldwide, journey most produce has taken before it even hits store shelves. Then it might sit there for days waiting to be taken home. Locally grown food is generally picked, sold, and eaten (nutrients and all!) while the other produce is still in transit.
4. Buying local food supports your local farm families.
When farmers sell their products wholesale to national brokers, they often make a little more than they spent on producing the food. That’s why big factory farms have squeezed out many local farmers – they can afford to take a smaller profit margin because they make up for it with larger volume sales. Their factory farms also produce more efficiently. Unlike local farmers, factory farmers are anonymous and not as accountable to the community for their farming practices.
When farmers can sell their food locally, there is less expense involved in transporting the food and they get a larger share of the proceeds. Making more money means they can afford to stay on their family farm, doing work that they love. Local farmers take their responsibility to their customers, and their community, seriously. We love them for that!
5. Supporting local farms benefits the entire community.
As long as local farms can remain financially viable, there is less chance they’ll be forced to sell off land to developers. Buying local food is a proactive step toward saving farmland.
Well managed farms conserve soil, protect water sources, and provide habitats for a wide variety of wildlife which take advantage of a farm’s fields, woods, meadows, and ponds to live and raise their young. They also provide people with some much-needed green relief from city life!
Money that is spent locally tends to stay in the local economy – something to remember when you’re buying groceries for your Thanksgiving dinner. And remember, all of your “Round Up at the Register” donations at Tidal Creek through November will go to our local Youth Shelter. Have a deliciously local holiday everyone!