Otago Farmers Market

Why should we eat locally? - 30th Jun 2011

Why should we eat locally? Eating local means more for the local economy.
According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. When a business is not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction

Locally grown produce is fresher.
While produce that is purchased in the supermarket has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmers market has been picked within 24 hours of your purchase. This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time. Ever tried a tomato, picked from an outside vine, within 24 hours? All it needs some sea salt, some cracked pepper and a bunch of napkins. Enough said.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.
Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be "rugged" or stand up to the rigors of shipping and long storage periods. This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, and tomatoes that were ripened until the last possible minute on the vine.

Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than organic.
In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic.

Buying local keeps us in touch with the seasons.
By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when thay are at their peak taste, are most abundant and least expensive.

Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story. Whether it’s the grower who brings carrots and calvonero to the market, or the farmer who brings his organic lambs to the restaurant, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.

Eating local helps ensure your food is safe.
When you purchase food from a supermarket it could be grown anywhere in the world. Some countries don’t even have basic regulations around food safety. Growers can use any sorts of sprays without any controls placed on them. On the other hand New Zealand has very good Food Safety legislation and when you purchase your food at a Farmers Market it is really easy to question what has gone into your food, because you can ask the person selling it to you. Food with less distance to travel from farm gate to dinner plate also has less susceptibility to harmful contamination.

Local food translates to more variety.
When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket. Supermarkets are only interested in Name Brand produce: Cos lettuce, Mesclun mix, Red Delicious apples, Nadine potatoes.

Local growers, farmers and gardeners often play with their crops from year to year and plant heritage or heirloom produce that has wonderful and natural irregularities that supermarkets are scared of. This ability to play with your food yields amazing results often seen only once, and that is the true beauty of local, seasonal food.

Supporting local providers supports responsible land development.
When you buy local, you give those with local open-space farms and pastures an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped. Have you ever heard of a property developer knocking down a mall to build a farm?

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