We all know the importance of eating a wide variety of fresh produce, but let’s take a look at the importance of eating LOCAL produce specifically.
- Nutritional – When you are shopping at your local farmer’s market or become a shareholder with your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), you are only looking at the freshest available produce. The farmer or grower is only going to offer the seasonal specialties, picked at the peak of ripeness. Not only will the flavor be better, but the nutritional value will also be higher since that tomato could ripen longer on the vine before you buy it, wash it, and dice it into your salad. Produce is generally full of delicious flavor, much more so than the “summer” peaches grown in January and shipped thousands of miles to your grocery store.
- Seasonal – Buying seasonal fruits and vegetables is an excellent way to introduce the necessary variety into your diet. Likewise, being in tune with what options are available in each season means you will be providing your body with the nutrients it needs for that particular season. Heartier carrots and sweet potatoes help sustain us in fall while fresh strawberries and sweet corn help cool us in the summer.
- Environmental – With fewer stops between the plant and your plate you not only help to protect the environment, there are fewer chances for contamination. If you are concerned about pesticides or other additives used in growing, what better way to get your questions answered than to be able to chat with the grower herself. Local farmers aren’t anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously. In addition local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern industrial agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale food production. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors. Supporting your local farmers also encourages and maintains local farmland, open space, and/or green space.
- Economical – The money spent at the farmer’s market down the road from your house is money that feeds the local economy. This economic support fuels your local services and businesses in a way that it very tangible and sustaining.
- Community – By buying direct from the farmer you are honoring and reestablishing the important long lost relationship between the grower and eater and building community.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Fortunately, Farmer’s markets have been growing in number all over NYC and there are several resources to locate them. One of the best ways to find your local farmers is to sign up with your area’s Community Supported Agriculture or CSA. Signing up for a CSA is an excellent way to make sure that you receive the best seasonal produce, picked literally just for you. If you are unfamiliar with this program, it is deliciously simple!
- Local farmers offer “shares” of their crop.
- In return for purchasing one of these “shares”, you will typically receive a weekly box of vegetables and sometimes other specialties depending on the individual growers, throughout the season.
CSAs are also accessible and growing in number in the City. This is my third year with Corbin Hill Farms CSA and I so look forward to another season. Not only are they affordable and expanding their distribution sites throughout Harlem and the Bronx they help foster a true sense of community in the areas they operate that is very appealing. If you’d like to learn more please go to their site. If you are a member of another CSA or shop at a Farmer’s market that you love, please post and share your experience to inform others and expand this movement of supporting sustainable agriculture, building community, and getting healthier in the process! #RootforRealFood