Many people believe local means the local Wal-Mart or local big box grocery store. Eating and shopping local means shopping from items PRODUCED in your local community. Here are some reasons you should shop and eat local.
Because this originally posted on a weekend holiday I decided to run it again
Once the farms a gone you are a slave to corporate America. If we do not support our local farmers and food producers you will be at the mercy of whatever the big groceries and big companies throw at you. No diversity, no heirloom vegetables, no unique species. You get the same mass produced tomatoes, chicken and they can pump and spray whatever they want on it. You are held to the ONLY thing on the market. Without local support these local food producers cannot continue and you will be left with only a few options.
Know where your food comes from. NO, your groceries do not come from Wal-Mart, or Kroger. They are more than likely shipped from across the country and sometimes the world. Know the farmer who produces your veggies, your meat. Be able to see how it is made, taste the difference. Know that within 30 miles you can have all kinds of products, fresh, not shipped, not frozen, not sprayed to preserve the freshness, not harvested weeks before they it is ready. Not in feed lots fed all kinds of hormones, antibiotics, and GMO grains saturated in chemicals.
Know how your food was raised. Have you ever wanted to know how your protein source was treated while it was growing? Wanted to know what kinds of pesticides, herbicides were used? Want to know more about your food? Ask. Go to a farmers market and ask the source. A good friend and local farmer can tell me what pastures they grazed in, if any of the stock were sick, he even posts pictures of the cows and pigs out in the pasture. Some farmers let you tour their farms and really see how things are done. Why would you ban cameras on farms if you had nothing to hide?
How far did your food have to travel? Was it down the road or across the world. With gas prices rising, food costs will increase. Local farmers drive an average of less than 50 miles to get to market. Sometimes the produce is picked that same day as you get it. How long ago did a head of lettuce from Venezuela have to be picked to get from the farm, to the sorting area, to the transportation area, through customs, into another warehouse, then to the store? My eggs latterly travel 30 feet from our coop to our kitchen. If you have never had farm fresh eggs, you are missing out. SO much better than the crap they put on the shelves at the store. I will NEVER buy a dozen white eggs from big box stores again. There is just no comparison. Sometimes they can be up to 6 month old before you get them. Mine may be 6 hours.
Less money going to the government. The further away your food travels the more money you supply the clowns in the clown house (our governments). Think of the property tax on the land, the gas to harvest on the mega farms, the tax on shipping it here, the tax on customs, the tax on imports, the tax on warehousing, the tax on the utilities on warehousing, the tax on transportation to the store, the tax on the store location, the taxes for the utilities on the store, the taxes to the employees in the transportation activities, the taxes on the employees on the farm, the taxes on the employees in the warehouse and I am sure I am missing some. Yes all of this creates jobs, but it also drive up your costs. For a local farmer, things are much simpler. His land, his utilities, and his gas to get it to you. So why is buying local more expensive? There are no government subsidies, and it is the true cost of food. All the taxes from buying at the big box stores goes to supplement the mega farms. But the difference is, the clowns in the clown house get their cut too.
Flavor and freshness. Picked the same day or fresh to your door. You cannot compare the difference from big box food to local sourced. No additives, preservatives, flavor enhancers. Real food, and real simple.
If you cannot raise your own food, support the local farmers, artesian food crafts. I have not always been of this opinion. It wasn’t until I started going regularly to the farmers markets and meeting my local food producers. I learned how proud they are of their products and they should be. I through parmesan cheese came out of the green tube shaker at the store. I met a man from Italy, who crafted parmesan cheese and the flavor was simply amazing. Eating fresh eggs from my back yard. Being able to walk out my back door and pick anything and eat right off the bush. No washing needed, no worries. My kids can walk out and know they can eat anything in the garden without worries, and they actually fight over the fruits and veggies. Why? Because they are packed FULL of flavor. They have not been picked weeks earlier and then sat on a store shelf.
Last year I bought a ½ side of beef for around $750. We got steaks, ribs, roasts, hamburger, and even got organ meat as a treat for our dog. It averaged around $2 a lb. You cannot even get the cheap burger for that now. Steaks are around $13 a lb. We have been eating on this meat for almost a year and still going. I know the farmer, I know his practices, he talked me through how he raised his cows. Another local farmer invited me out to his farm to see how he raises his pigs, cows and chickens. I know my family is not getting chemical laden meats, and there is nothing “hidden” from the process. My wife met the butcher, as it was an older husband and wife who had been butchering all their lives. She got to custom cut, and process all our meat.
Every time I speak to a local food producer I learn something new. My wife tells me I have what she calls “the gift of gab” aka I can talk to anyone about anything. This is also why she always plans to spend hours at the market even though we only want a few things. I learn about new herbs, that not all grass is the same for livestock, I learn that what one market is out of, another has a surplus. I learn who has the best berries, who makes an amazing sour dough bread. I learn that after speaking to the artisan bread maker, he invited me back to their bakery to see how it is all made, and offered up a sourdough starter for free. I learn about raw milk, the benefits, the benefits of lacto fermenting foods, and that you can go get you kitchen knives professionally sharpened.
If you have never been to a farmers market, go check one out. They are an amazing place to learn. Remember the vendors are there to sell a product. But they are usually more than happy to tell you all you want to know about your purchase or potential purchase. Bring cash, but some do take cards. They must also either pass on the fees of accepting cards or eat the fees. Cash is always easier and better. Markets are usually on the weekends, some are held during the week.