Food Day- a national event, celebrated annually on October 24th has been promoting the theme “Toward a greener diet” as a focus for 2015 (more info here). In support of this idea, I wanted to talk a bit about local food.
“Local food”- typically defined (loosely/regionally) as food that has come from within a 100-mile radius of where it is supplied to you- has become a mainstream trend over the past several years.
With the recent popularity and growth of farmer’s markets, greater interest was sparked- interest in where food comes from, whose hands it passes through, and how it is grown in the first place.
A trend, you say? It’s food! Nothing fancy. Usually comes somewhat covered in dirt. Bears the occasional tiny visitor (I’m talking to you, little bug that boldly strutted out of my cabbage two weeks ago…).
And it involves more work for you! The consumer! It requires you to store it, and chop it, and potentially cook it… practices that have, until recently, been sorely OUT of the mainstream for decades.
I would know…. My childhood occurred in the throws of the convenience product boom! Not that there wasn’t cooking being done, but there was an awful lot of microwaving, and plastic packaging, and so on- helping things along.
But the local food movement is bringing basic, unprocessed food back to your kitchen. Fresh from the ground, and with many fewer miles behind it.
NYC now booms with the local food movement. From farm-to-table restaurants, to farmer’s markets that work with the SNAP program to give discounts to food-insecure patrons- farm fresh produce is becoming increasingly more available, and… popular! Ever since “organic” became a buzzword, the idea of the idyllic farm down the road became a coveted concept.
And I’m on board! If this city of trendsetters can bring more light to the local food movement countrywide, I’m all for it.
This past summer was my first experience joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Being a member of a CSA goes one step further than a farmer’s market in that the community members enter into a direct-to-consumer relationship with the farm.
You pay for your share in advance- thus you are sharing in the risk and the rewards of the farmer. For example- the year may bring a bumper crop of peppers, but maybe the asparagus didn’t do so well. You get a little less asparagus, and a lot more peppers. The farmer loses less money, and continues to be able to maintain sustainable farm practices. And the veggies…. are awesome!
Not convinced yet?
More reasons to buy local:
- Responsible farming practices encourage biodiversity, and increase quality of the soil, assuring a future of good food.
- Less fossil fuel is used in both the farming and the transport.
- Shorter distances mean safer foods! Fewer trucks, fewer middle-person handlers, less storage = fresher produce, and more nutrients for you!
- Community building: You are reducing the gap between grower and eater, and building a connection to the dynamic nature involved in the production of your food.
- It’s an adventure! You’ll experience new things. Chances are, you aren’t familiar with everything that grows in your region. Buying from a local market, or taking part in a CSA is a unique way to explore new foods, and expand your edible horizons.
Eating locally, even just as a portion of the food you consume, can make a huge impact in the lives of the farmers, the health of the earth, and on your own relationship to food.