I make a concerted effort to keep my food purchases local. I buy my grassfed meat from a local butcher who gets his beef, chicken, and pork from local farmers. I either grow or buy fruits, vegetables and eggs from farmers at the local farmers market. I buy real cream for my coffee and cheeses at the farmers market, from a vendor who sells products from a local dairy. About the only foods I don’t buy local are coffee, oils, avocados, dried beans and wine. Here’s why….
The most important reason I buy local is that all these fresh local products absolutely taste better! You can’t compare a fresh picked tomato to a cardboard grocery store tomato. You can’t compare the taste of fresh eggs from happy hens raised on the pasture to any other type of eggs. Fresh cream and cheeses are amazing. There are so many absolutely beautiful cheeses that are unbeatable. If you care about the quality of your ingredients, then buying local is the way to go.
I also care about how the products I eat and feed my family are produced. I want to have a relationship with the farmer who grows or sells the food, so I can ask how it was raised or created. I want meat products to come from animals that are raised humanely in their natural environment. I want vegetables that are grown without pesticides, even if they have a few holes and are not perfect. I want milk products that are from grass fed cows and goats. This is important to me, not only from an ethical perspective, but also because food produced this way is healthier. There is no way to speak to the person growing the food for sale in the grocery store. I make the assumption most of it is processed or raised in a way I probably won’t agree with.
One of the best reasons to “buy local” is that it is healthy and nutrient dense. Fruits and vegetables raised by local farmers are the least likely to have pesticides on them. They are also the freshest (very little distribution/travel time involved), and still contain most of the nutrients they had when they were picked just a day or two before I buy them. I can also find many yummy and healthy colorful vegetables that are loaded with phytonutrients, and simply not available in grocery stores, such as rainbow colored carrots, green and orange cauliflower or purple broccoli. Not only that, meats and milk from animals raised on the pasture have a better fat profile than those from confined animals, and are higher in omega 3’s. All in all, I believe eating local real food is a much healthier choice than anything I can buy in the grocery store, regardless of how it is labeled.
I also choose to keep my food purchases local because I want to support my community, and specifically, local farmers. We need to keep local growers employed and farming, or else our entire food system will become industrialized. I know buying grassfed meat from my local grower is more expensive and that beautiful local cheese is not cheap. It is worth it to me to do my part to keep this key element of our food system alive and well. I spend a little more money on something local and amazing, and eat a smaller portion. Better a small steak from grassfed beef and a huge pile of veggies, than a huge steak from somewhere and someone I don’t know.
Keep the local farmers farming! They are a key part of our community, good food, great taste, health, and well being.
Eat your local veggies!
photo credit @organiceater