By now, many of us know the arguments for reducing our food miles and eating more local food. It reduces your carbon footprint, by reducing the distance your food is shipped. Eating local often means eating healthier, as you're buying more whole, unprocessed foods and fewer pre-packaged products. This further reduces your environmental impact, by reducing the amount of packaging you consume. You're also supporting your local economy and promoting local food security.
|My son helps me choose peaches at the market in 2012|
When I think of the farmers' market, it's the people I think of. People like the woman from Never Say Die Nursery, who's quick to tell everyone how good her produce is, and who always sneaks an extra tomato, carrot or pepper into my bag. People like Barrie Redl, an honest-to-goodness cowboy who brings his grass-fed beef to the market every week, and who loves to joke with my children. People like the Forstbauers, who give my children little gifts of funny-shaped carrots and small ornamental gourds.
|My daughter checks out a cucumber at the market in 2007|
I believe that fresh, local food is healthier, because it hasn't lost as many vitamins and minerals by being shipped and stored. However, it also feels more nourishing, because when I'm eating the food I've bought at the market I'm thinking of the people who grow and sell it. Every fruit, vegetable, egg and piece of cheese has a story - and I know what that story is. It's food that builds and sustains community, which is a very powerful thing. In the end, this is what really keeps me coming back, week after week.
Are you also a farmers' market regular, or someone who frequents farm stands or buys shares in a CSA? I'd love to hear about how you experience community when you're shopping for local food.