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7 Reasons to Buy Locally Grown Produce

09/04/2013 09:23PM ● By Ryan Frisch
The New England area has a number of farms that grow all types of produce year round. Consequently, you’re sure to have seen a farmer’s market or two pop up in your neighborhood recently. Perhaps you’ve even stopped in and looked around at what your local farmers have to offer. But you might wonder what the big to-do is about these little local markets. Buying and eating locally grown foods is better for your health, the environment, and your community. Read on for 7 reasons to buy locally grown produce.

1. Buying local supports local farmers. Less than one percent of Americans are farmers as their primary occupation. It’s often difficult to make a living when working with larger stores that take a big percentage of every sale (according to the USDA in 2011 farmers make only 11.6 cents of every food dollar) At your local farmer’s market the farms get full retail value for their goods which helps them to continue their business and provide you with the freshest, high-quality foods.

2. Buying local results in lower prices for you. As mentioned above, removing the middleman allows farmers to keep every cent spent on their product. This often allows them to offer their buyers lower prices than your traditional grocery store. This is not only great for you, but also supports underserved families who may not have enough income to normally purchase fresh foods and produce.

3. Local produce promotes food safety. Local foods don’t make it to manufacturing plants. When foods go directly from farm to table, there is less chance of contamination (remember the E.Coli bagged spinach outbreak in 2006). Farms that sell locally often offer organic produce, meaning that they use environmentally friendly products, and less harsh pesticides. Local produce is also not genetically modified because smaller farms do not have access to genetically modified seeds.

4. Locally grown food tastes better and is better for you! Produce grown in your own community is usually picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet, and bursting with flavor. Food purchased soon after its harvest retains more nutrients than food that is picked, then sent to be packed, shipped, and sit on a grocery store shelf.

5. Buying local produce is good for the environment. The average distance food travels to get from farms to supermarkets is 1500 miles! This is often by plane and truck, which uses fossil fuels and produces carbon emissions and pollution. Local food never travels far, conserving fuell and energy traditionally used for transport and prevent carbon emission. It also uses less packaging products conserving even more energy and plastic products.

6. Local food preserves genetic diversity. Commercial farms use a smaller number of number of hybrid fruits that can tolerate the harsh processes of harvesting, packaging, shipping, and storage leaving little genetic diversity in the food supply. Family farms grow a wide genetic variety of fruits and vegetables which serves to extend their growing season, thrive in changing climates, and provide excellent flavors and beautiful colors (think heirloom tomatoes).

7. Buying locally is about the future. Purchasing your food from local farms ensure that these farms will be preserved for generations to come. This preserves open space, since these farms won’t be purchased and developed over. It also maintains the local farming business ensuring that future generations will have access to abundant, great-tasting, nutrient-rich, affordable, local produce.

Article written by Stefanie Montalto