I love going to the farmer’s market. Walking from vendor to vendor, inspecting the produce and choosing what to buy is a lot of fun . . . to me at least. In the summer, I try to go every weekend. It’s a challenge with two kids under 3, but a worthwhile one and I am certain that it won’t be long before the kids will be asking when we are going to see the vegetable man, the bread man and the clam lady.
But why should I, or any one else, eat local?
- Less Chance of Contamination. Shopping local means that you meet your producer (usually) and they have an intimate knowledge of their crops. Ultimately, that means that your risk of getting something like E.coli from a head of lettuce or salmonella from a tomato are substantially lower . . .
- It can be healthier. Eschewing processed, packaged foods with ingredients lists that are filled with words you can’t begin to pronounce is sure to benefit you in the long run. As with anything, it’s all in what you do with the food that makes the most difference.
- Shopping at farm markets is fun. I love talking to my clam-monger (who was kind enough to compliment me when I verified that the clams were indeed ultra-local) and my vegetable people . . . I love seeing the hands that plucked my tomatoes from the vine and made sure that my delicious spring onions got enough sunlight and water.
- It’s better for the environment. When you eat local, you are saving countless gallons of gas that would otherwise have had to truck in an un-fresh food from far off countries. And yes, I know that un-fresh isn’t really a word. Back to the point–when food doesn’t have to travel as far, the producers won’t be as affected by the gas crisis (they will be affected, but since they don’t travel as far as a tomato from some South American country, transport remains on the low side).
- You know who you are supporting. Buy an apple in the grocery store and a little bit of the cost goes to the stock boy and a little to the managers, but more goes to the grocery store chain, the truck drivers, the people who load the boxes on the airplane, and then a little bit to the guy who grew it and the person who picked it. Buy an apple at the farmer’s market and you are looking at the person whom it supports. Now, I am not saying that you shouldn’t support all those people, but for produce, why not keep the revenue local? Meanwhile, still shop at the supermarket for paper goods, most cleaning supplies, etc . . . the things that just aren’t done locally.
So now you have it. I think it makes perfect sense. Now, want to know what I got last weekend?
Here’s a rundown:
1 bunch spring onions
1 big hothouse tomato
1 loaf sesame semolina bread
1 large fresh mozzarella
1 container (about 1 cup) fresh pesto
1 dozen local clams
1 bar Goatboy soap
Total spent: about $35.50, give or take a few cents