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Buying locally produced food at area farmers markets can pay big dividends
JULY IS here, and while the downside might be heat and humidity, the very tasty upside is the arrival of
People are more than ever looking to buy food that's been produced locally--many of them growing it themselves whether as a hobby or to save money. It's a "growing" movement, actually, and one that's about as nonpartisan as it gets. It's also a habit that presents a bounty of benefits by:
Reducing the need to transport food over long distances, reducing pollution and fuel consumption
Strengthening the local economy
Supporting local family farms
Improving everyone's nutrition by putting fresh, healthy food on the table
Helping to keep open space and farmland in production rather than development
Establishing a sustainable local community-food system.
Some people are making a commitment to local commodities by joining CSAs, or Community Supported Agriculture programs, offered by local farmers. These are a good way to share the local bounty and boost the local economy all season long. Based on figures prepared for the Fredericksburg area, if each household spent $10 a week on local food that would be otherwise spent in the supermarket, the regional economy would gain $57 million per year. According to localharvest.org, only 18 cents of each dollar you spend at the supermarket trickles back to the grower, wherever he might be.
And when you buy directly from a local grower, you can learn more about how that food was produced--organically or with chemicals. Part of the value of buying local is that artificial methods of preserving freshness are largely unnecessary.
To further advance the buy-local movement, patronize restaurants that use locally produced foods and encourage school officials to bring local foods into the cafeteria. What better way to boost good nutrition at a young age?
If there is any silver lining to the ongoing economic stress, it's that more people are inclined to buy local and grow their own. It's the sort of trend that can continue once the economy recovers--good news for local growers, and everyone's health and pocketbook.