Who doesn’t love fresh picked fruits and vegetables? Not everyone has the time or space to grow their own but, no matter the region in which you live, the growing season is quickly approaching. Not only is that the best time to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, there is often a wider selection to choose from. More and more farmers are growing organic produce, bringing more healthy, wholesome options easily accessible to their community.
Shopping at a farmers’ market, farm or farm stand are ways to get locally-grown produce. Buying local supports your community and you are also establishing a connection between you, the consumer, and the farmer. Buying at your local farmers’ market puts money back into that community’s economy and so generates more income. By supporting farms locally, you are ensuring a future for them too.
A CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is another great way to support your local farmers. CSA offers the consumer a share of their crops--typically one box of vegetables per week. An interested consumer would purchase a seasonal membership in advance of the growing season, which helps the farmer up front. In return for their membership, the consumer gets a box of fresh veggies delivered each week. Delivery of the boxes usually starts in early summer and finishes in the fall. In some CSA programs, the farmer may provide more than just produce, so you could also find eggs, fresh bread, cheese, and flowers. The more abundant the growing season, the better the CSA ends up working out for both consumer and farmer.
Yet another option is to pick your own (PYO). There are farms that have PYO fruits and pumpkins. I have picked my own blueberries, I ended up with 10 lbs., and I had a blast doing it! Not only were they super tasty and sweet, they froze really well so I had blueberries for months.
Buying locally helps the community financially, but it is also good from an eco-friendly standpoint. Less fossil fuel is used in getting the produce to the local farmstand or farmers’ market. That means fewer greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fruits and vegetables which often have to be transported over long distances.
Locally sourced fruits and vegetables are fresher than those you will find at your conventional grocery store or supermarket. As soon as local produce is ripe, it’s picked and sent to market within the community. The fresher the produce, the tastier it will be. Conventional produce is picked before it is fully ripe, and may be kept in storage for a few weeks before being transported. Picking produce before it is fully ripe does not allow it to reach its full taste and flavor potential, which can only be achieved by ripening “on the vine”. Apart from taste/flavor, really fresh vegetables and fruit are better for you, especially when compared to those that have been stored for any length of time before reaching the consumer. Produce that has been stored or transported over long distances lose nutrients in the process.
The produce from your local farmers may have lower prices, fewer pesticides and they may be organically grown. If you are looking for fresh, you can’t get much better than buying local at a farmers’ market or farmstand unless you grow it yourself. Here is a helpful website: https://www.localharvest.org. In addition to being able to search for local farmers’ markets and farms where you may buy fresh produce, you can learn more about CSAs, read their blog and look up recipes too. Support your local farmers and economy by buying local, and enjoy reaping the benefits of delicious, fresh produce!