Buy Local Produce and Help the Planet
Each region of the country has its own locally grown produce. From the sweet tomatoes of New Jersey to the abundance of wheat and grains in the Midwest to the sun-ripened fruits of California, our nation’s farmlands are second to none. Of course, no state is capable of growing every type of fruit and vegetable, so there will be times when you will have to buy out of state produce. But, if your grocery store offers produce from both in-state farms and out of state sources, why not choose the locally grown food, or even better, buy directly from the farm?
There are a good number of benefits that you as the consumer can receive by buying local. Here are just a few examples of the ways buying locally grown produce can help your health and your community.
• Locally grown produce is healthier for you and it simply tastes better
• Buying local produce helps keep local farms in business
• Keeping local farms in business helps to maintain lower taxes
• Buying locally helps keep pastures and fields open, rather than developed
• Farms help to keep the environment clean and they benefit the wildlife population
• Buying local helps the community thrive
Think about it for a minute. Would you rather purchase your corn from Jim, the farmer down the road, or from stranger, thousands of miles away, perhaps even in another country? It is not unusual for the food on your dinner plate to have traveled anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 miles over the course of one to two weeks before you sit down to enjoy it. Consider the difference in the freshness of the produce when you can be eating it the same day that it is harvested. It makes a world of difference in the taste and the health benefits of the food.
How Buying Local Helps Reduce Global Warming
When you take into consideration the distance most foods have to travel to make it to your dinner table, you realize how many emissions are produced during the transportation process. There is a good argument that buying locally can even help reduce global warming, something we all should be concerned with.
Smaller, locally run farms tend to use less pesticides and chemicals on their plants than some of the bigger, commercially-driven farms. This is also extremely important to not only the health of the environment, but to your overall health as well.
The Financial Benefits of Buying Locally Grown Foods
According to the USDA, 4.7 million farms have been lost in the United States since 1935. In addition, in 2002, farmers reported their lowest net cash earnings since 1940. By buying locally you can help relieve some of the financial distress most farms face every year.
When a farm sells their produce through a market or grocery store, they often only see about 20 cents for every dollar of produce purchased. But, when you buy directly from the farm, they get the full dollar value. In addition, by keeping local farms flourishing, farmers always need help harvesting and tending to the farm’s needs, so opportunities arise for local teenagers to find well paying and rewarding summer jobs. Simply put, stronger farms mean more jobs and more evenly balanced taxes.
When you take into consideration the benefits of buying local, it just doesn’t make sense to purchase fruits or vegetables from outside sources. In a way, buying local may be the hidden secret to many of life’s worries. From the poor economy to the poor environment to America’s struggle for better health, it can all be helped by keeping your money invested in local farms. It may not be the answer to all of our worries, but it’s a good place to start!
USDA. 2002. Number of farms, land in farms, and value of farm real estate, 1910-2002. Economic Research Service Web site. url: http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/farmincome/finfidmu.htm.
Elitzak, Howard. 2000. Food Marketing Costs. Economic Research Service Web site. url: http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/foodreview/septdec00/FRsept00e.pdf.