LOCAL Foods – 5 Reasons To Buy Them

Local foods are better

Local Foods: Better Nutrition

Typically the local produce that you buy locally (farmers markets, etc..) will have been recently picked or harvested. Fruits and vegetables start losing vitamins and other nutrients from the minute they’re picked. That short (local) travel time is important to their overall nutritional impact. They haven’t had a chance to start losing nutrients, so they are actually healthier for you than they would be if the foods had to travel for a week or more to reach you.

Local Foods Taste Good!

Locally grown fruits and vegetables generally end up in your hands at their peak of flavor because they were picked ‘in-season’. The only way to get it any fresher is to grow it yourself! You will notice the difference in the just-picked, mouthwatering taste of the fruits and veggies from local farms. You will also find that smaller farms often have a diversification of foods and varieties, providing customers with unique heirloom varieties and other flavors.

Local Foods Are Good For The Community

Those small farms are an integral part of the fabric of our communities. They help to keep the special character of the region alive. A vibrant farming community is part of what makes an area unique. Unfortunately we’re seeing less of them these days…

Local Foods Are Good For The Local Economy

When you shop locally, far more of the money that you spend stays local. It supports the businesses and individuals in your community. It creates a positive ‘ripple effect’ that can be felt across the community. Those local businesses can then grow and thrive, helping put more money back into the local economy instead of an international food corporation.

Local Foods Circumvent ‘Just-in-Time’ (JIT)

A Just In Time Food Disaster is a potential reality. Nearly every single thing that we buy comes from places very far away. Businesses (and grocery stores) do not sit on inventory any more, and the supply chain is fine tuned to be “just in time”. Should systems fail, shortages will occur rapidly. Keeping foods close to home (buying local) will lessen that impact.

Local foods will usually cost more than buying from Super Walmart or other grocery stores. Why? Because of “economy of scale”. Local smaller farmers don’t get the same quantity discounts on the operating requirements/costs of their business compared with the mass producers. And they have bills to pay too.

Many people may have good intentions but then won’t pay the extra to buy local. Just know that more of our local food farms will continue to disappear without our support.

I would rather have a few thriving farms in my local area to help community self reliance than having none at all.

People At The Grocery Store

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  1. Look up your local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm. Eatwild.com has a search option to look for CSA’s in your area. I have used several over the years until settling on one that is less than a mile away and puts out some great produce. The food is always seasonal, picked when fresh and generally with less/fewer chemicals used. Prices range greatly based on location and what your share include and the number of weeks in the season. Find your local farmer, you won’t regret it!

  2. As someone who has been and will be a local grower of vegetables, joining a CSA is taking it a step further, CSAs allow the grower to grow,,, and have some level of security, most growers are held hostage by retailers or wholesalers, personally i would rather grow less for a smaller market than struggle to grow tons of food, economy of scale

  3. When I was a child (sound familiar?), being raised in a small agricultural community, “shopping habits” for food was quite different than now. I recall regular trips to the outskirts of our small town to visit “Egg Smith”. I never knew his real name, as everyone called him “Egg Smith”. He had a small egg production operation producing maybe 10-15 dozen eggs a day. Many, if not most, folks bought their eggs from him, at his home. It was his livelihood. Most folks didn’t have a “deep freeze” at home, mainly because they couldn’t afford one, but there was a “locker plant”. The locker plant was a small business that rented “frozen food “lockers” for a small rental fee. They also bought local hogs, chickens, and feeder calves and butchered them. Families would buy the butchered meat and store it in the rented “lockers”. Of course some bought “cash and carry”, but prices were less if you bought bulk and stored it in your locker. Most farmers, no matter what their cash crop was, raised vegetables for their family’s consumption, but usually had excess to sell at their “fruit and vegetable stands” located on the road in front of their farms. Perishable fresh vegetables out of season were hard to find, even in the stores back then. Food shopping back then meant “making the rounds” before going to the store. Which brings up another thought. Ever wonder why they call it a “store”? Could it be because that’s where they “store” the excess production to sell to those who don’t have their own “stores”?

  4. Wish we had one closer than 70 miles away. I seem to be the local grower here and everyone has to wait until at least July because of where we live.
    There is a small business that is showing up all over called bountiful baskets. They have a box of fruit and veggies all through the winter for $15. You can also buy flats of other fruits and veggies and bread that they offer every 2 weeks. The one out here is only 40 miles away but worth it.

    1. Old lady,
      We had bountiful baskets here for some time, then last year when they had the trucking issues we stopped getting them. I have heard they are working on getting them back in our area. I sure hope so they were great especially in the winter. And I loved that sometimes they had things I would have never bought so I had to try them haha. I also miss some of the things you could buy in bulk.

  5. I love buying local produce/items during the summer months. The greenhouse by me opens next month and will offer freshly picked rhubarb to kick off the growing season.. Next will be the U-pick strawberry farms, then it’s cherry U-pick season-my favorite time of the year :)

    Then the farmers markets open and we get most of our produce from them, as well as things like locally made soaps, jams, honey etc. As summer winds down we’ll hit the U-pick blueberry farms and then our growing season wraps up with a robust apple harvest. I buy little produce from the regular grocery store during May-October and I’m getting antsy for things to get started again this year!

  6. We have a couple of local farmer’s markets (weekly) as well as a family-owned 7-day-a-week produce stand. Some of the produce at the stand is grown onsite, the rest is grown at 2 farms – one about 10 miles away – the other about 80 miles away. It’s about as close as I can get to local grown produce in any kind of variety/volume. Yes, it is more expensive than the grocery stores, but it’s fresh, seasonal, and reasonably local. One of my local farmer’s markets also has a vendor with access to good honey from not too far away as well. Gotta support the local growers!

  7. Out here is very agricultural (an area nearby was once known as the ‘green bean capital of the world’. )While we always grew big gardens, we shopped at the farmer’s market and bought from other local farmers what we didn’t grow ourselves. I remember when all the pastures surrounding us were farmed…now? Hay. Not too many are farmed at all anymore.
    The farmer’s market is still going but there are only 2 or 3 local families that grow produce anymore. Most go and buy wholesale and then ‘resell’ at the market. I grow my own produce as much as I can and buy from the families who I know grow local. Times have changed. This area used to feed itself and had surplus to ship. Not anymore.

    1. I went to pick muscadines last September and was amazed to see that the farmer had pulled up all of his blueberry bushes! I am always disappointed to drive past Apple Orchard Road and know that there are no apples down that road anymore. I also drive past drained catfish ponds. i am so sorry when these farms shut down.

      1. RoughRider;
        Tis all part of the decline of the USofA it seems, and probably the world.
        I remember my mom telling me of the Great Depression whereas the Farmers would simply share what they could with my family. More than likely saving them from starvation, and would never even think of asking for anything in return.

        The world has changed, and not a very nice change, More and more reason to prepare for what may/probably come.

      2. Funny you mention muscadines, RoughRider-there used to be a huge u-pick right down the road and of course he pulled up those vines in the 90’s. I have a couple big vines covering some fencing here. Amazing how much fruit those vines can put on in such a small space. Love scuppernong muscadines.

  8. The reality is not too far off from Kens final statement that many people have good intentions but basicly dont walk the talk,,,

    THAT in a nutshell is why i decided to turn our 8 acres into a homestead instead of struggling to grow for market, not too long after i stopped supplying we had a rat lungworm scare, no cases directly tied to any farms on Maui but it crashed the local fresh produce market anyway, growers saw their sales go to almost zero almost over night, it still has not really recovered. It would have devastated my operation except for the fact i had already stopped supplying, so i just sorta said a prayer of thanks and kept going.

    The cold harsh reality is most people do not follow through with buying local and have unreasonable and unrealistic expectations from small growers such as myself, that there is another reason why i have a hell of a homestead now rather than a farm, the other side of it is being that i have seen how fickle the public is i could give a rats arse what they eat for dinner,,,,,,
    Not my problem

    1. Nailbanger-I think a lot of people like the idea of buying local but you’re right-very few follow through. Even the ones who go to the farmers markets don’t seem to actually buy, besides a token item here and there. That’s been my experience at least-when the kids and I do our weekly farmers market trip we arrive with cloth bags and a list. However, we’re definitely in the minority, as most of the other shoppers just wander around and leave with one or two items, or nothing at all.

      1. Svzee
        I sold at the farmers market for a while, first few weeks were pretty good, then people started to try and haggle over price, was cheap to begin with, wayyy cheap, that did it for me, i said screw it, im just fortunate im in a situation where i can do that, but most growers cant, i dont need the aggravation,
        Personally i feel time is getting short and that short term gains will mean nothing very soon

      2. Svzee
        I sold at the farmers market for a while, first few weeks were pretty good, then people started to try and haggle over price, was cheap to begin with, wayyy cheap, that did it for me, i said screw it, im just fortunate im in a situation where i can do that, but most growers cant, i dont need the aggravation,
        Personally i feel time is getting short and that short term gains will mean nothing very soon

        1. Nailbender;
          You hitting the Shine again, your repeating yourself… HAHAHAH

        2. Advancing age and an overloaded mind is all it takes to do stuff like post the same thing twice, walk into the garage and forget what you went there for…..

        3. Advancing age and an overloaded mind is all it takes to do stuff like post the same thing twice, walk into the garage and forget what you went there for……

        4. OldChevy
          That was me,,, new phone
          My favorite is go into the shop to get something i need and come out with all sortsa stuff i didnt really need, but still forgot the parts i was looking for,,,

  9. Timely article Ken; I splurged and purchased a “Vine Ripened Tomato” (one) on the way home yesterday, “Guaranteed” to be the “Best Tomato you’ll ever Eat” actually printed on the label…… Absolute compost….. Took one bite and tossed it into the Compost Bucket. Yes I knew better, but ya know one little tomato, how could I go wrong?

    Farmers Markets and Locals-Yokels seem to know how to grow ‘Flavor’ into food. Home Gardens are the best of course, but I do stock up on things I don’t grow, or have a crop failure, aka Tomatoes. The local (closest) to home markets love to see me walk down the lane; sort of like when I do Ketchup, 100# at a time, yummmmmmmm Fresh truly Vine Ripened Tomatoes THAT HAVE FLAVOR!!!!!

    Of course than the local farms for Beans, Corn, Green-Chili, ohhhh my, the list goes on and on.
    A question, is 11 bushels of Green Hatch Chili really that much?? I mean come-on-man its Green Chili for crying out loud… HAHAHAHA

    Ok, enough talk about Fresh Vegetables and Fruit….. Harvest Season is a few months away, time to plant plant plant that Garden.

    And yes I will admit, most wont, that I do buy Wally World and Amazon running the local stores out of business, BUT I will/do support those that truly produced/grown/made here, and I do mean right here, not just import stuff from ‘outside’ and mark it up 80-00%. Everyone bitches and moans about Amazon, but guess what, if there was not a need for the services, than they would go out of business also.

    1. NRP,
      Seriously I really don’t know if 11 bushels of green chili is enough. One can never have too much green chili Haha. Although I do get mine from a local farmer down in the canyon that I think is just as good as Hatch. A little closer and a touch cheaper. You get this way in the late summer you need to try some.

      1. Ranchers wife;
        I’ll have to do that, maybe on the way to Dove Creak for annual 500# of beans :-)
        Assuming he roast them also? or?

        1. NRP,
          When he is at the farmers market he roast’s them. When we get ours we just roast them our selves. ( I get to have them delivered to my door haha) We do so many that several years ago DH made our own roaster so now we roast ours and several others. We keep the roaster set up almost all fall for whoever needs them roasted, It just makes everything smell sooo good!

          P.S. So glad I am not the only one who gets beans 500 # at a time.

        2. Ranchers wife;
          People think I’m crazy (not arguing with them) But getting anything direct from the grower is wayyyyyyy better, even Beans.
          Have you had the Mortgage Lifter Beans grown up there? Best Beans ever, and non-fart I believe HAHAHAHA

        3. My favorite from Dove Creek are the Bolita beans. Like Pintos but better. I also found out any beans I buy from them can be grown in my garden, producing even more fresh beans! I will have to try the Mortgage Lifter, never heard of them before.

        4. Old Lady;
          I agree on the Bolita Beans, they are a very mild bean on both ends :-)
          I’m not a fan much of Pinto Beans much at all, to much cheap Mexican style foods I guess? The Anasazi Beans are much better, GREAT flavor and seem to cook in a little less time.
          No wonder I’m fat HAHAHA

        5. NOTE to NRP, Rancher’s Wife, and Old Lady,
          Hush!!! Quit telling people about the good stuff. It’ll increase demand and then prices. There is NO discussion on the superior quality and taste of Hatch chili. McElmo chili can’t compete. Mum’s the word. Next thing I know you’ll be talking about P******* peaches, and Green ***** melons. OPSEC:-)

        6. Nothing like driving a custom van loaded with sacks of Hatch Green Chili from Romero’s in Espanola New Mexico all the way back to Oklahoma! We were so hungry when we got home! I couldn’t wait to get the roaster fired up. We’ve used the pickup and topper from then on to make our annual “chili run”.

          CD in Oklahoma

        7. Steve;
          OMG, your right!!!!!! hahaha
          Ken can you delete the previous discussion on the Hatch Green Chili?
          Honestly, the rest of the country/world has NO idea what really good chili is, they all think it’s that Red stuff ya buy at Costco Once you go Hatch ya don’t go back :-)
          Funny I took 2 pounds out of the freezer this morning for a batch of “true” chili tonight. yummmmmmm

  10. We participate in a local farmers’ market where we sell meat, eggs, raw milk, cream, and excess vegetables and fruit. We also do farm tours so that people can see exactly where their food comes from while the farmer explains the benefits. We can fill custom orders, such as chicken feet (for broth), pig organs (for dog food), and beef and lamb bones (for bone broth). Last week, we pulled up kale stalks, stuck the entire stalks, roots and all, in water in 5-gallon buckets, and sold leaves off the stalks at the market. Pretty fresh! We are making more garden space this spring, inspired by Ken’s recent article, so maybe we’ll have more vegetables to share.

    We sell at a premium, but we feel like our humanely-raised, pasture-raised meats, eggs and milk are worth it! Thanks for supporting your local farmer!

  11. Had tried a local CSA a number of years ago with high hopes of getting nice produce. It was such a disappointment that I decided to give up on that option. The local Mennonites have 2 family run farmstands which are limited in variety and way more expensive than organic at the high end grocery chains. DH says that their primary buyers are the tourists passing through. I won’t pay $6 for a single bell pepper or for a couple of pieces of peanut brittle.

    We do have a farmer that sells corn directly from his place, a strawberry farm and we’ve discovered a farm that sells a small variety of veggies locally. Otherwise, I tend to use one of the supermarket chains that really does carry local produce and honey. Get tired of having to buy just produce trucked in from Cali especially during our growing season.

    I’m considering the possibility of moving further south when DH retires. The area I’m looking at is in zone 6b and has a lot of farmstands and farmers markets. The only drawback is that it’s heavily populated and very close to the American border (tourist area). Otherwise, I guess we stay in our local 5a area and keep looking for those farms selling to the public and possibly getting a greenhouse. Nothing tastes better than locally grown produce that’s just been picked.

    1. We retired to 6b and are still pretty far from the border. We don’t have farmers markets here but we can grow just about anything.

      1. @ old lady

        I’m jealous, our garden fights us all season long, every year. Sure do miss my garden when I lived in zone 6a. Like you, could grow a wide variety of items. Oh well, God put us here for a reason.

      2. Yep, there is nothing like stepping into our own garden, pulling something fresh, and sampling our own wares! Easy to get sidetracked and stand there eating instead of doing the chores. LOL!

  12. I really like to buy local, I don’t go to many farmers markets but what we don’t grow ourselves I try to go straight to the farmers to buy or barter from them. Fresh just tastes so much better even if it is a little more.
    We are getting a few small businesses around here who try to buy and use local as much as they can, even our school has a program where they get as much from the local farmers as they can. If everyone would start doing that just think how good all the food would be and what a huge help it would be to the smaller farmers.

  13. There is a family farm down the road we buy from in the summer. Not organic, but ok. When I was child I can still remember at least 4 local dairies. The milk was so good. I can also remember my Mammaw pasteurizing her milk on the stove. Boy it was REAL GOOD cold!

  14. We try to grow as much of our own food as we can . We are fortunate to have a great ,local owned grocery store that carries lots of locally grown fruit and veggies when we need them. We also try to buy pork and beef from local farmers and have it cut/wrapped here in town . We also buy honey and eggs from our neighbors.
    Until we moved to our present home in an agricultural area we did not realize how many chemicals are sprayed on food and fruit crops and we also began to be aware of what chemicals are in animals feed. We made a decision to eliminate as much of that stuff as we can out our diet
    The” just in time ” grocery delivery system seems to be somewhat fragile to us . We would not want to rely on it , especially in an emergency situation .

  15. I remember being a kid (no really…good times). Ma and us boys (sometimes a family affair with the aunt’s) would pick blueberries, cherries, apples
    Ma would say, “Hey u boys are eating more than ur picking.”.
    GF and I shop at the local farm markets where ever we are. And we hit numerous road side stands to contribute to whomever.
    Support the locals

    1. My Mom said the same thing. Did you ever point out to her that eating more than you pick is a physical impossibility? :) At worst you eat everything you pick.

      1. Lauren
        Umm no, I never told Mom that.
        I was just a kid.
        Also loved those fresh peaches in the breezeway, waiting for canning ….if they made it that far.

  16. I manage our local farmers’ market and can tell you a few secrets. Get to know the vendors, if you would take the time and chat you have no idea what you will learn. They do not like to display seconds, but they have them and they are discounted and just as good as prime, just uglier. It is not an easy way to make money and any attempt to haggle is not generally going to be well received. Some sell canned goods that will reimburse you for returning canning jars. Some markets sell produce that is shipped in from afar, ask where they do their farming and get to know what sort of farming they do, the organic label is misused. Dirty produce isn’t necessarily bad, it might be preferable when it comes to root products. Root products store the best, grow leaf products at home and process root products for storage. Find out who the CSA vendors are, but visit the farm before you sign up.

  17. Around the Sacramento area there is a place called Davis ranch. You can go there and pick all the veggies ( in season ) for .25 a pound. All GMO free. The only down side is there is a 25.00 minimum so if your not picking 100 pounds the price will go up. I have gone several times but 100 pounds is way more than I want to process or eat in a short amount of time but for someone that has time to can or dehydrate that much it is a great deal.

  18. Farmers market in town (Clayton, GA) twice a month during the summer. Some of the craft vendors are just outstanding with great products. Have open air fruit and vegetable stands on the main highway to S.C. Some years we buy 50# and 100# apples, potatoes and dry corn. The best part is we know where the food is coming from and pay cash. No rewards card or tracking by big brother.

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