Summer is the perfect time to enjoy local produce because of the sheer variety of fruits and vegetables that are available. I’ve waited all winter for ripe berries, juicy tomatoes and sweet stone fruit. We get a few months of this bounty and when the season is over, we wait patiently for summer to come again so we can enjoy our favorites. Connecting and eating with the seasons can be rewarding but also a tough challenge as many of us now rely on grocery stores to provide year-round produce.
Did you know that the average food item has traveled 1,500 miles to get to your plate? Seeking out local food, understanding how it was grown and learning more about the people who grew it can be an empowering experience. Not everyone has the opportunity to shake hands with the person that grew their food but for those that do, it carries more weight than a certification.
Wait, there’s more
Did you also know that how we eat can have as big an impact on climate change as transportation and energy? When produce is shipped, flown or trucked long distances, it must be harvested before it ripens so as to survive the journey. Many producers started developing and growing varieties that held up to transportation and overlooked flavor and nutrition as desirable qualities in their produce. As a result, it is often less nutritious and less tasty, uses a lot of fuel and causes pollution. In addition to being hard on the environment, American farms, owned and operated by family members as a primary income, are disappearing.
There is huge value in supporting our local farmers. It’s important for our food security, our health, and future generations that we support the local agriculture and preserve flavor. Our annual Eat Local promotion kicks off this month and celebrates local produce and the mid-sized American family farm.
Look for ways to support local farmers in your area by visiting farmers markets, participating in Community Support Agriculture (CSAs) or supporting local co-ops. Localharvest.org is a great resource to find farmer’s markets and CSAs in your area.