9 Reasons to Buy From Local Sustainable Farms
It tastes betterFood grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It is crisp, sweet and loaded with flavour. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.
It is better for youA recent study showed that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some "fresh" produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week or longer. Processing foods by heat and water is known to cause nutrient loss, which is why buying fresh is generally the most nutritious choice.
It preserves genetic diversityIn the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. An example of this is the tomato, which was designed for a long shelf life without concern for food value or flavour. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown commercially. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavours. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, because they taste good.
It supports local farm families
* Is Nova Scotia eating local? 2010
It builds communityWhen you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honoured connection. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food.
It keeps your taxes in checkFarms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers.
It supports a clean environment and benefits wildlifeA well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued and it is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry.
It is typically gmo-freeAlthough biotechnology companies have been trying to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, they are currently licensing them only to large factory-style farms. Eating locally produced food grown on small farms means that you typically do not have to worry about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). If you are opposed to eating bioengineered food, you can rest assured that locally grown produce was bred as nature intended.
It is about the futureBy supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavourful, and abundant food.
Adapted from ©2001 Growing for Market