The many ways buy­ing lo­cally grown foods pays div­i­dends

The Covington News - - AGRICULTURE - (Metro Cre­ative Con­nec­tion)

The pop­u­lar­ity of or­ganic foods and stores that cater to cus­tomers who pre­fer such foods con­tin­ues to grow, and that growth has con­trib­uted to a grow­ing aware­ness among shop­pers of where the food they eat comes from. Many con­sumers now rec­og­nize the im­pact that food pro­duc­tion has on the en­vi­ron­ment, and that recog­ni­tion has spurred in­ter­est in lo­cally grown foods.

Lo­cally grown foods are those that are grown within your com­mu­nity or a com­mu­nity nearby. Such foods do not need to be shipped hun­dreds of miles be­fore they ul­ti­mately find their way onto your plate, and many peo­ple find that con­trib­utes to meals that are more fresh than meals made up of foods shipped from afar. But fresh­ness is not the only ben­e­fit to pur­chas­ing lo­cally grown foods, which pay var­i­ous div­i­dends for peo­ple and the planet.

Lo­cally grown foods ben­e­fit the en­vi­ron­ment. The phrase Òfield to plateÓ is sig­nif­i­cant to con­sumers who pre­fer lo­cally grown foods. That phrase refers to the dis­tance food trav­els from the grower to the plate on your din­ner ta­ble. Es­ti­mates vary depend­ing on the source, but ad­vo­cates of lo­cally grown food sug­gest that it re­duces the field to plate dis­tance by an av­er­age of 1,300 miles. ThatÕs a sig­nif­i­cant feather in lo­cally grown foodsÕ cap, as the Coun­cil on the En­vi­ron­ment of New York City notes that it takes 435 fos­sil- fuel calo­ries to fly a sin­gle five calo­rie straw­berry from Cal­i­for­nia to New York. Buy­ing lo­cally pre­serves that en­ergy that is used to trans­port foods from afar.

Lo­cally grown foods fuel your lo­cal econ­omy. In ad­di­tion to ben­e­fit­ting the en­vi­ron­ment, lo­cally grown foods stim­u­late your lo­cal econ­omy. Lo­cal, in­de­pen­dent farm­ers have largely fallen by the way­side in the 21st cen­tury, as industrial agribusi­nesses have taken over the pro­duce sec­tions in gro­cery stores across the coun­try. But lo­cal, in­de­pen­dent farm­ers are mak­ing a come­back, thanks in large part to con­sumer de­mand for or­ganic foods. Sup­port­ing such farm­ers who grow their foods lo­cally means youÕre putting money back into your own com­mu­nity, a worth­while ef­fort at a time when so many small com­mu­ni­ties are strug­gling eco­nom­i­cally.

Buy­ing lo­cally grown foods con­trib­utes to bio­di­ver­sity. Ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion, more than 75 per­cent of agri­cul­tural ge­netic di­ver­sity was lost in the 20th cen­tury. ThatÕs thanks in large part to industrial agribusi­nesses that cul­ti­vate fruits and veg­eta­bles that are bred for fast mat­u­ra­tion. But small, lo­cal farms typ­i­cally grow a wider va­ri­ety of fruits and veg­eta­bles in an ef­fort to ex­tend their grow­ing sea­sons. That means con­sumers of lo­cally grown foods have ac­cess to more fruits and veg­eta­bles, and there­fore more fla­vor.

Buy­ing lo­cally main­tains beau­ti­ful land­scapes. Farm­land has been on the decline for decades, as ce­ment and as­phalt have made mil­lions of acres of once beau­ti­ful farm­land dis­ap­pear. Buy­ing lo­cally helps to main­tain the green space your com­mu­nity and sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties have left. That makes for great road trips and even helps to sus­tain lo­cal wildlife pop­u­la­tions.

Lo­cally grown foods can be more nu­tri­tious. Fruits and veg­eta­bles can rapidly lose nu­tri­ents once they are har­vested. ThatÕs prob­lem­atic when buy­ing such foods from industrial agribusi­nesses that need sub­stan­tial time to get their prod­ucts from the farm to the shelves at your lo­cal gro­cery chain. But buy­ing from lo­cal farm­ers in­creases the like­li­hood that the fruits and veg­eta­bles you pur­chase were just picked and there­fore have yet to lose a sig­nif­i­cant amount of nu­tri­ents.

Lo­cally grown foods are grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity, and that pop­u­lar­ity can be traced to the fresh­ness of such foods as well as the nu­mer­ous ad­di­tional benefits that lo­cally grown foods pro­vide.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.