Why Not . . . Buy Local Produce?
The first farmers’ market of the season will open this weekend in Eastern Oregon, and I am thrilled! While it may not be as abundant as Portland's Farmers’ Market, it is nonetheless a sign of warmer weather and fresh from the garden fruits and vegetables.
So what exactly am I looking for during these early first weeks at the market? I love to bring home rhubarb and make strawberry rhubarb pies or tarts (click here for my recipe), as well asparagus for a simple, yet delicious roasted vegetable side dish. I also am always looking for peonies as they are only available for such a short time and make beautiful elegant bouquets. Beyond that, anything else that catches my eye and tempts my taste buds is likely to wind up in my basket.
According to the University of Vermont’s extension service there are many benefits for us all to buy local produce as often as we can. I’ve included their findings as well as my own. Have a look:
1. Top Quality Flavor – as produce is picked at its peak and often sold the same day if not the next, the farmers, using their expertise, have chosen the best produce to be enjoyed on that particular day.
“The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor.” ~Chinese Proverb
2. Support the Community – with any market or business that is frequented, we get to know the farmers, families and workers who share with their customers their hard work and attention to quality produce. With a livelihood that is dependent upon the weather and other variables out of their control, supporting those who contribute to the community in a positive way perpetuates a feeling of goodwill and appreciation for delicious, safe and healthy produce.
3. Preserve Open Fields and Space – when we choose to pay farmers a good price for the quality produce they offer their customers, we are helping them to maintain a profitable farm and preventing them from selling land for development.
4. Less Distance, More Nutrients – the fewer miles the food you eat has to travel, the better able the produce is able to keep its nutrients and flavor.
5. Invest in What You Want to See in the Future – in other words, how you spend your money is a subtle, but power indicator of what will continue to grow into the future. If you wish to have healthy produce on your table in which the land and the animals were treated humanely, be willing to pay for those who put in the labor to make it a reality.
6. Get to Know Your Neighbors – when I purchase my farm fresh eggs, I not only am able to bring home rich and flavorful ingredients for my next breakfast, but I am also able to get to know the woman or man or family that compassionately cares for the chickens and learn just one more “good news” piece of information about the community I already enjoy being a part of.
7. Build an Appreciation for Mother Nature – upon buying food in season, it becomes easier to appreciate what our seasons and Mother Nature can produce. This knowledge also serves as a motivator to be more respectful and caring of the earth we live on.
While these are just a few of many reasons to buy and enjoy local produce, perhaps you’ll be stopping by your farmers’ market this weekend? And so I must ask, what are your favorite things to buy?
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Image: (1) source