By Judi LaPan, One Goal Fitness
Yes, farm-fresh produce tastes better, but there are dozens more reasons why you should support local food.
But that’s not the only reason you should start hitting up your weekly market. There are dozens of reasons to support local farmers, including buying vegetables that have higher antioxidant levels and haven’t been fumigated with toxic chemicals. When you buy these seven foods in particular, you’re supporting less-toxic food production and could even save a farm or two.
A bland, mealy grocery-store tomato will never rival a fresh-from-the-farm-market tomato. And there are more benefits to local tomatoes than just taste. In Florida, farmers in that state apply five times as much fungicide and six times as much pesticide as farmers in California, which supplies another third of the country’s fresh tomatoes.
You’ll never find anything but standard orange carrots at a supermarket, but you’ll find them in every hue, from purple to white, at local farm stands. Those colorful varieties, particularly purple carrots, have higher antioxidant values than commercially grown orange carrots.
Grab a pint of local strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, and you’re doing the planet a favor. Because they perish quickly and have short shelf lives, berries are often shipped from farm to distribution center via air freight, the most fossil-fuel-guzzling form of food shipment. You’re also doing domestic growers a favor: According to Food & Water Watch, the United States imports $220 million worth of strawberries, while selling just $1.5 million worth of domestically grown berries.
Oddly enough, buying local onions could help save a farm. A few years ago, the U.S. government loosened trade restrictions with Peru, and the result has been a glut of imported onions that has dropped the price local farmers can get for their crops by half. As a result, domestic onion growers have slowly been cutting back on the number of onions they grow.
Asparagus imports from Peru have grown steadily and now account for 51 percent of the asparagus we consume. The USDA requires all shipments of fresh asparagus from Peru to be fumigated with the dangerous pesticide methyl bromide, a neurotoxic chemical suspected of causing cancer. If that’s not bad enough, the chemical shortens asparagus’s shelf life, so it doesn’t even taste good by the time it arrives at the store! Keep it local for best flavor.
Domestic, imported. Organic, nonorganic. Peaches just don’t taste good any other time of year than in midsummer, the height of their season, because they don’t hold up well during transport. Another benefit to buying local? Pesticides. Peaches are treated with more pesticides than any other fruit. Buying local means you can grill the farmer to see which chemicals, if any, he or she uses.
Grass-fed beef and dairy
Like organic food, the environmental impact of animal products has more to do with how they were raised than how far they traveled—which is why buying local beef and dairy is important. Animals raised entirely on grass produce 8 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions and 30 percent lower ammonia levels than corn-fed animals raised in confinement.
By Emily Main in Organic Gardening
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