Reprinted from With an Ear to the Ground by Vern Grubinger, published by Northeast Region SARE, 2004
Local food tastes better.
The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheese are hand crafted for the best flavor. Food imported from far away is older, has traveled on trucks or planes, and has sat in warehouses before it finally gets to you.
Local produce is better for you.
The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food.
Local food preserves genetic diversity.
In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms, in constrast, often grow many different varieties to provide a long harvest season, in an array of colors and flavors.
Local food is safe.
There’s a unique kind of assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye at farmers market or driving by the fields where your food comes from. Local farmers aren`t anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously.
Local food supports local families.
Wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Local farmers who sell directly to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food, which helps farm families stay on the land.
Local food builds community.
When you buy direct from a farmer, you are engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing the farmer gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. It gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.
Local food preserves open space.
When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they are less likely to sell their farmland for development. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive to preserve our agricultural landscape.
Local food keeps taxes down.
According to several studies, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most other kinds of development contribute less in taxes than the cost of the services they require.
Local food benefits the environment and wildlife.
Well-managed farms conserve fertile soil and clean water in our communities. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds, and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife.
Local food is an investment in the future.
By supporting local farmers today, you are helping ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.