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11 Reasons why Local Food Makes so much Sense!

April 18, 2012

1. Locally grown food tastes better.
Food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from California, Florida, Chile or Holland is, quite understandably, much older or it is picked green so it can ripen in transit. It rarely does, so it does not taste the way it would if ripe. Several studies have shown that the average distance food travels from farm to plate is 1,500 miles. In a week-long (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality.

2. Local produce is better for you.
A recent study showed that fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. Food that is frozen or canned soon after harvest is actually more nutritious than some “fresh” produce that has been on the truck or supermarket shelf for a week. Locally grown food, purchased soon after harvest, retains its nutrients.

3. Local food preserves genetic diversity.
In the modern industrial agricultural system, varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen simultaneously and withstand harvesting equipment; for a tough skin that can survive packing and shipping; and for an ability to have a long shelf life in the store. Only a handful of hybrid varieties of each fruit and vegetable meet those rigorous demands, so there is little genetic diversity in the plants grown. Local farms, in contrast, grow a huge number of varieties to provide a long season of harvest, an array of eye-catching colors, and the best flavors. Many varieties are heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, because they taste good. These old varieties contain genetic material from hundreds or even thousands of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.

4. Local food is GMO-free.
Although biotechnology companies have been trying to commercialize genetically modified fruits and vegetables, they are currently licensing them only to large factory-style farms. Local farmers don’t have access to genetically modified seed, and most of them wouldn’t use it even if they could. A June 2001 survey by ABC News showed that 93% of Americans want labels on genetically modified food – most so that they can avoid it. If you are opposed to eating bioengineered food, you can rest assured that locally grown produce was bred the old-fashioned way, as nature intended.

5. Local food supports local farm families.
With fewer than 1 million Americans now claiming farming as their primary occupation, farmers are a vanishing breed. And no wonder – commodity prices are at historic lows, often below the cost of production. The farmer now gets less than 10 cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food – which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.

6. Local food builds community.
When you buy direct from the farmer, you are re-establishing a time-honored connection between the eater and the grower. Knowing the farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the miracle of raising food. In many cases, it gives you access to a farm where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture. Relationships built on understanding and trust can thrive.

7. Local food preserves open space.
As the value of direct-marketed fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows full of wildflowers, the picturesque red barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.

8. Local food keeps your taxes in check.
Farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 34 cents on services.

9. Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife.
A well-managed family farm is a place where the resources of fertile soil and clean water are valued. Good stewards of the land grow cover crops to prevent erosion and replace nutrients used by their crops. Cover crops also capture carbon emissions and help combat global warming. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage could sequester 12-14% of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry. In addition, the habitat of a farm – the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings – is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife.

10. Local food is about the future.
By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food.

Buy local food. Sustain local farms.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2012 4:08 pm

    Great post with very original thoughts, I wouldn’t have drawn the same connection between local food and taxes. I’ll remember that one. Thanks for the endorsments! What you are doing helps out all of us small family farms. Keep up the great work!

    • April 18, 2012 5:29 pm

      As a consumer, new to West Virginia 5 years ago the information that was available was very thin and the farmers market near me is not progressive. There is a lot of excitement growing in this state, however, and I am so very happy to be part of the process, sharing information that there is a lot here!

      • April 19, 2012 2:40 am

        Almost doesn’t seem fair about the taxes.

  2. April 18, 2012 9:14 pm

    This is perfectly articulated! I had to share to it with all my followers!

  3. April 19, 2012 7:41 am

    Good article!

    • April 19, 2012 9:51 am

      Didn’t want to sound preachy but I think it may have crept in there. LOL

  4. April 19, 2012 8:01 am

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    When C and I moved to North Carolina, we found ourselves in a state that still has a huge agricultrual tradition and industry. About a year after we moved, we began to explore the awesomeness that is buying direct from local farms. This is a great post for someone who is thinking about making the switch from grocery store to farmers market, but needs more information. Enjoy!

  5. May 18, 2012 7:38 am

    Great article. I personally love #6 – having that one on one relationship with the farmer(s) and the ability to learn so much about their farm, the seasons, etc.. Enjoy the weekend!

    • May 18, 2012 8:21 am

      I have the best situation in the world…getting to meet so many wonderful people who work so hard to provide quality food to the public. Hearing the joys and challenges that they have helps make it so much more meaningful when I buy that carton of eggs or broiler.

    • May 18, 2012 8:06 pm

      Meeting the farmers has been the best part of this job, followed closely by getting to see this beautiful state by getting off the highways!

  6. May 19, 2012 1:23 am

    Reblogged this on The Farmers Taft and commented:

  7. May 19, 2012 4:15 pm

    Love this post! Excellent points!

  8. May 19, 2012 4:17 pm

    Reblogged this on jennirific and commented:
    I couldn’t say it any better. Local food is the way to go!

  9. May 19, 2012 4:20 pm

    I totally agree. We try to do that as often as we can! I highly advocate locally grown everything whenever possible. 🙂

    • May 19, 2012 8:15 pm

      Now that it seems a no-brainer to me to buy locally grown food as much as possible, I have to remind myself that just 4 months ago I was 100% grocery store shopping…and not even a Whole Foods kind of place. We have to remember that not everyone can access local farm food. BUT it is more accessible that people assume.

      • May 20, 2012 11:12 am

        We have a local Dutch market. They come down from Pennsylvania, so not TOTALLY local, but during the summer our grocery stores carry corn grown in NC and VA, so we have access to that, and every Friday night about an hour away from me, there is a farmers market where all the in-state farms and vineyards come and sell their stuff. We try to go down there as much as possible. It is harder for some people to access it, and even we have to drive a considerable ways to do so, lol. I only really realized how much of a difference supporting your local farmers makes when I moved out west and my town was supported by primarily farmers. And my bf’s parents own a huge farm in CA that feeds a lot of the country, so he drilled it into my head too. Like you, I was at the grocery store a bit more often than I should’ve been, lol! Really changes your thinking, huh?

      • May 21, 2012 3:36 pm

        Fresh farm produce is amazing. The access to local farm products enhances the local economy also. You are definitely enjoying the taste and nutrition of fresh food!

  10. June 3, 2012 2:17 pm

    And if I do say so myself, the “Buy fresh, buy local” sign you used is absolutely correct. When ever I visit friends in West Virginia, I always look forward to their garden fresh food. Many of my heritage recipes came from those folks…love the people, love the food, Sweet home West Virginia!

    • June 3, 2012 3:21 pm

      The WVFarm2u Collaborative assisted in the publication of a Heritage Cookbook you might be interested in. This link can get you to the post where you can order it if you want.

      • June 3, 2012 3:26 pm

        Thank you very much! Talk about weird coincidences, I just posted a heritage recipe from a book I wrote but have not yet published called Maw maws recollections, observations and recipes. You can download it free on my blog. Today I posted a story of Ramps! I figure you being from West Virginia and all might enjoy reading about Maw maw and early life in Southern WV. Good to meet you, Stay in touch! JW

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