Monday, May 10, 2010

Why buy local?

The other day my Mom offered me some radishes, “straight from the garden.”  Funny, I planted her garden, and my planting didn't include radishes. I quickly assumed her definition of "straignt from the garden.”  This meant she just came from the grocery store and purchased the radishes that day. She knows my passion for local food, and likes to poke fun.

Is it wrong to shop at grocery stores? Of course not.  Each week I get items I haven't found locally from traditional stores. How could I live without my chocolate! I buy locally those items that I am able to get straight from the farmer. Many foods are already available, even this early in the season. At Saturday's farmers market locally produced foods included tomatoes, asparagus, lettuce, onions, grass raised beef, honey and eggs.

Why do I choose locally produced foods?  For many reasons, here are a few:

1. Food Distance:  I was shocked the first time I read an estimation of the average distance food travels to our plates.  The estimation ranges from 800-1500 miles, just for us to eat a meal. In light of the recent oil spill, consider where you would get your food if oil was suddenly unavailable, would you be able to eat? 

2. Fresh Food: Most produce in the US is picked on average 4-7 days before it reaches the grocery store shelf. If produce comes from outside the US, it is often picked even earlier! Local foods are often fresher, which means, they are often tastier. And the best part, you know the farmer so you can ask when it was picked if you want to know!  Try doing that at the grocery store.  Chris and I had lettuce salad last night picked from our garden 30 minutes before we ate, we noted that it tasted less bitter and more sweet than that we normally eat.  Incredibly satisfying.

3. Local Economic Support: We all know the economic situation today is rough.  Why not reinvest your money directly into the Wichita area economy by purchasing from a farmer you know?  I have read when purchasing directly from a farmer ~90% of the money goes directly back to the farm.  When purchasing foods at a grocery store, ~7% of the money stays in the local community, and ~93% is used to pay for processing, packaging, distributors, wholesalers and truckers.  Read more here.

Those are just a few of the reasons I choose local products.  Why do you choose to eat locally, or why not?  Maybe you're hesitant, what else do you need to know to support your local farmer?

LOCAL FOODS LIST:  I'm continuing to work on creating a list of local food producers (within ~100 miles of Wichita).  If you know of someone who is willing to sell eggs, produce, honey, meat or other products directly to the consumer, please contact me!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I'm with you on going for more flavorful produce -- tomatoes from the farmer's market are amazing!

    Another reason to buy local or grow your own might be to have access to produce that you know is grown without exposure to pesticides. This comes with knowing the farmer.

  4. Some people are concerned with the reliability of the "organic" food label as organics become a bigger industry. So your point is definitely a good one - and you can ask the farmer what processes they used to grow the food.

  5. I recommend the book Just Food by James E. McWilliams. It's a good book with sobering information for those of us who support local food. I still support eating local but now I have a broader take on food production for the planet.

  6. I'm always interested in reading more on the topic, David, and will add this to my list of "need to reads." Thanks for the recommendation, there's always more to learn. I'm currently reading "Real Food" by Nina Planck. Interesting perspective.