Food, one simple word that has so many meanings. We crave it, love it, live for it, we can’t survive without it. However food isn’t just a means to survive anymore, it is a way through life and affects everything in it. Food changes our mood, our behavior, it sets the stage for events and gatherings. Nowadays you cant surf the net or watch television without seeing food being sold, made, or investigated. Food has engulfed our entire existence, but it hasn’t always been that way.
A few years ago (ok more than 10,000 years ago), human existence survived with two basic tasks, hunting, and gathering. These two tasks is how our ancestors survived before they developed the understanding for cultivating crops and domesticating animals. Hunting and Gathering is how we survived for millions of years. But what exactly is a hunter-gatherer? It is pretty self explanatory, you either hunt, or gather your food. This was a time where there was no such thing as potato chips or hotdogs. You ate animals, seeds, nuts, vegetables, or anything else you can gather from the trees or ground. Food was a resource to live and that was it. A way to survive, it didn’t have an effect on a table, or the ability to change the emotions of thousands, it was scarce, if available at all.
But what does this have to do with our existence today? Well let’s take a look at the movement coming across America these days with everyone trying to get fit, eat healthy, just live better, because many of us realize our bodies weren’t meant to be stuffed with fries and cheeseburgers. In our current quest to put better quality fuel in our life engine, many are turning to these fancy words like Organic, Grass fed, Gluten free, No sugar added etc.
What many don’t realize, is all of this organic, good for you food, is readily available to us right down the road. Farmers markets still exist and are popping up more and more in our communities. But what do farmers markets have to do with our communities or the economy?
Here’s a few quick facts of what shopping at local farms or markets can do for you and our community:
Eating locally grown food tastes better. Local food and crops are picked at their peak of ripeness instead of being harvested early so they can be shipped and distributed to retail stores. Many times locally grown food is picked 24 hours before you buy it instead of sometimes months before it hits the shelves.
Eating locally grown food is safer for you. The more steps between where your food came from and where you buy it, the more chance there is for contamination. There is more of a chance for contamination during mass harvesting, shipping, and distribution, rather than if your friend Jeff just picked those apples from that tree that morning.
Local food benefits the environment. Purchasing local food preserves farmlands, keeping our neighborhoods green and less industrialized.
Purchasing Locally helps the community. When you buy food from a farmers market or farm stand, you know exactly where your money is going. it is staying right there in your community instead of going to a giant corporation’s stockholders bonus.
Purchasing locally keeps the taxes down. According to several studies by the American Farmland Trust, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the cost of required services. Cows don’t go to school, tomatoes don’t dial 911.
If you’re interested in helping out your community this summer, and are already planning on purchasing food, why not take a look at some farmers markets, farm stands, and community gardens. See the links below to find the closest place to you.