Food & Design: Buying Local
We are all feeling the pinch of the recession. Times like these makes everyone look at their spending and see where the can cut back and conserve. One noticeable changes individuals can do to save money is to cut back on their weekly grocery bill. Clipping coupons, choosing wisely on their meal plan or just being aware of what you buy could save people hundreds of dollars in a year. However, being aware doesn’t mean cutting corners.
Emmaus is a small town on the eastern side of Pennsylvania. For the past seven years, Emmaus has hosted its own farmers market on every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. from May to Thanksgiving. What an unique feature about this market is that all of the vendors are from a 75 mile radius around Emmaus. This ensures that these sells have a direct line to their goods and that they know the growing process of their goods.
In the grocery store, the buyer rarely knows where their food is coming from. In addition, this isn’t helping your community. By buying local you are making sure that your money is staying in your region, which will help build a stronger community as well as a stronger local economy. As I learned from Christi Dunning, Emmaus Farmers Market Manager, the Emmaus Farmers Market (EFM) keep strict policies for their vendors. Dunning explained that they have turned possible vendors away because a part of their product wasn’t grown or established in the area. The EFM wants to provide their community with producer only products. By keeping everything locals allows the customer the ability to talk to the farmers who grew the fruits and vegetables. These customers can find out more about their food but it also gives a face to their food producers.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE AVERAGE JOE’S?
Now I am not here to tell you about statistics in fair trade practices or even give a lecture about keeping your food local. I am however going to give you benefits with having your farmers close. When you grow locally, your food will taste better. Local food is normally picked within the past day or two which keeps more of the flavor. Studies have showed that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is around 1500 miles over a week-long period. This delay changes the chemistry of your food which then decreases its nutritional value. Also when you buy locally supports your local community, and not just benefiting the farmers but also you. These farms protects open-space, which could have gone to land development.
There will always be pros and cons for staying local and organic. I have provided just some of the pros of doing both but their are several more ways local and organic products can help you. To find farmers markets near you check out the site LocalHarvest.org. They have addition information about staying local, as well as the network of finding markets that are local. Find farmers markets, farms restaurants and grocery stores in your area. Also, I encourage you to check out documentary Food, Inc. that is due on June 12, 2009.
Alexandra Gergar is an active lover of food. Starting a food blog, Lemons in Water, she now resides in Pittsburgh where she is a local caterer.
Follow me on Twitter: AlexGergar