|Our new old tractor, an old-school|
The Local Food Difference:
6 Great Reasons to Eat Local
6 Great Reasons to Eat Local
|Lovely rows of lettuce just waiting|
to be harvested and eaten!
But in some ways, being the change we wished to see in the world has made things a little harder for your average CSA. For the longest time, if you wanted to get organic or local food, you pretty much had to be in a CSA or grow it yourself. You had to commit to picking up your food at a particular place and time each week (or commit to several hours a week of planting, weeding, and harvesting in the garden), but it was worth it to know exactly what you were feeding your family and how it was affecting the environment. Now that organic food is more readily available and more affordable in your average grocery store, that’s no longer the case. You can swing by the store on the way home from work and get your organic produce along with your shampoo, butter, and your daughter’s birthday present. This is a great thing for consumers because it makes eating organic more accessible than ever. But I still believe that being part of a CSA is absolutely worth it, and not just because this is our livelihood.
It’s been a few years since I’ve really thought to lay out why getting your veggies through a CSA or farmers market is better than getting them from the grocery store, because I’m so entrenched in this lifestyle that I forget that it’s not, in fact, self-explanatory. So let’s take a few minutes to talk about all the reasons why getting your food from a local farm is worth it, even if you have to go out of your way a little bit.
|The strawberry plants are full of blooms, so we're hopeful|
for an abundant strawberry harvest!
Local produce benefits your local economy: When you get your food from a CSA or farmers market, your food dollar stays in the community. Instead of it being sent to some corporate headquarters somewhere, it is likely to go to the local barber, or butcher, or piano teacher. Sometimes it’s a symbiotic relationship too. Case in point: Our tax preparation guy, our propane guy, and the guy who makes the labels for our retail containers are all CSA members, so we all support each other, and the original food dollars keep circulating around the community.
Local produce is better for the environment: Nothing beats local organic food for reducing negative environmental effects. If it’s organic, then no synthetic chemicals have been added to the ground or surrounding water sources, which is better for people, animals, and microorganisms. If it’s local, then it has taken a lot less fuel to get it to you than produce that’s been shipped across the country. Local farmers also usually produce on a much smaller scale, which means they don’t have as much gas-guzzling equipment as larger producers.
Local produce is usually more cost-effective: When a grocery store stocks produce from across the country or even a few countries away, not only do they have to buy the product, they also have to pay for the shipping, and they also have to make a profit. This means that they have to charge more for it in order to make money. When you get your food directly from a local farmer, you can get superior produce for less money because there aren’t the same shipping costs and middle men involved.
Local produce connects you to your community: If you’ve ever been to one of our CSA drop-offs, or if you frequent farmers markets, you know they are a social affair. I love listening to the conversations CSA members have with each other while I’m setting up the drop-offs. I hear about great recipe ideas, restaurants to check out, how people’s kids and grandkids are doing, and opinions on current events and politics. In our fast-paced, convenience-driven, often digital lifestyles, sometimes it’s just nice to establish a meaningful connection with a fellow human being in real life.
Local produce keeps the agrarian tradition alive: This is often on my mind in November as we wrap up another farm season, but it is equally true for the rest of the year. There is such a tradition of small farms and small farm families here in the Midwest, but most of that has disappeared over the last fifty years or so. I am so grateful to be living in much the same way as my farming ancestors (except that we have the internet and cell phones, so it’s the best of both worlds!) There is a reason why rustic chic is a decorating trend right now, and it’s because there is something in all of us that wants to be connected to something humble and honest and unpretentious. Small-scale local farming is exactly that, and it’s a tradition that is absolutely worth keeping alive.
So next time you’re making a decision about where to procure your food, take these factors into consideration. I’m not saying to never buy non-local food, because let’s face it, it’s really hard to be a purist in this area. But there is so much benefit to the farmer, the consumer, the environment, and the community, and so much good that comes from supporting local farms.