1. Locally grown food tastes and looks better
Food grown in your own community is usually picked and brought to market within a day or two. It’s crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from California, the Midwest, South America or Holland is quite understandably much older. 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. Local 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 supports local families
With fewer than one 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 ten cents of the retail food dollar. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers can get full retail price for their food – which means farm families can afford to stay on the farm, doing the work they love.
4. Local food builds trust
With all the issues related to food safety and homeland security, there’s an assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye at the farmer’s market and at the farmstand, or driving by the fields where your local food is grown.
5. Local foods preserve biodiversity
Local farms 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. 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.
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 keeps your taxes in check & supports the local economy
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.
8. 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, including bluebirds, killdeer, herons, bats, and rabbits.
9. Local food preserves open space
As the demand for local fruits and vegetables increases, selling farmland for development becomes less likely. The rural landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable.
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 — preserving the strength and character of our community, and ensuring that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and abundant food. Buy local food. Sustain local farms.
*Adapted from USDA