Buying local is a trending topic with a surplus of benefits.
Here we give you 10 reasons to keep your food local:
- More Nutrient Dense
Food from local farms is higher in nutrients than food that travels from other places. Locally grown produce is given the opportunity to ripen before it’s picked. Fruits and vegetables that travel, on the other hand, end up being picked before their nutritional peak in order to prevent them from spoiling. These different types of produce are often ripened with ethylene gas on their journey over from other countries. What you end up with usually doesn’t compare to what you get from local food, grown fully on the vine.
- Keep Money in the Community
When you buy local you’re supporting your neighbours, your friends and family. You’re supporting the people you’ve seen around town and have the chance to make a face-to-face connection with. You’re helping to improve the overall economy of where you live, which can help bring down prices of day-to-day goods.
- Reduce Foods Carbon Footprint
Imported foods require transportation. Whether it’s travelling by train, truck, ship or plane, these fruits utilize a lot of gas to get to you. Some foods are even transported to other countries before travelling to their final location. Codfish, for example, that is caught in Norway will be shipped to China to be cut into filets before travelling back to Norway or other countries. Since place like China and Mexico have lower labour costs, food is often sent to these places to be prepared before making its final stop.
- Increase Employment in Your Community
When you support local food businesses you help them thrive and grow, and as operations expand, this ultimately leads to more employment. The jobs created also become more personable and enjoyable. You’re no longer working for a faceless company, but for your neighbour and community member. There’s a higher connection between your work and your community, which most people find to be more fulfilling.
- Stay Cultured
Independently owned businesses add personality to your city. Nothing is more boring than another big-box store, it’s the local businesses that make your town worth living in and visiting. When you buy from local farmers, the community also has more say. When you have a one-on-one connection with the farmers and express allergies or health concerns, they’re more likely to take it to heart than big-box corporations who will only provide you with middle-men.
- Preserves Genetic Diversity
Local farms usually grow a variety of different crops at a time, which reduces species vulnerability. Factory farms, in contrast, tend to only plant one species at once. What happens then, is if a disease travels via wind throughout the farm, the whole crop gets whipped out. Local farmers will also plant produce that does not do well being shipped. This gives you the opportunity to experience new varieties of fruits and vegetables.
- A Happier Tomorrow
Supporting local provides a brighter future for generations to come. Local farmers are more likely to utilize environmentally sound farming practices. They help to protect soil from erosion and are less likely to use pesticides, herbicides or GMO seeds. Also, supporting local farmers today helps to ensure farms will be in the community tomorrow. This allows for future generations to have access to more nutrient dense and flavourful food.
- Better Tasting Food
Food left to flourish on the vine is more flavourful. When plants are grown in the best-suited environment, they end up on your plate fresher and more tasteful. Compared to local food, food that travels is older and generally tastes bland. Remember the last time you had a strawberry that tasted like water? That’s why.
- Less Packaging Involved
Buying food from your local farmers means less packaging waste. Food that is transported requires packaging and refrigeration that local food doesn’t. This means less waste and an overall cleaner environment for everyone.
Greater Connection With Your Food
When you know where your food comes from and often even the people who grow it, it is easier to feel more connected to your food. Some farms even give community members the opportunity to go and pick your own food. You also create a connection with the people growing the food and know exactly who and what your money is supporting.
Hamilton and its surrounding areas have many great local farms. We wanted to introduce two farms who are making an impact with their outstanding green agriculture practices…
Manorun Organic Farm
Located in Copetown, on the rural border of Dundas and Ancaster, Manorun Organic Farm is an organic farm that offers a “farm to eater” relationship known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The organic farm is run by Chris Krucker, Denise Trigatti, their 4 kids, local staff and volunteer interns. The majority of the work at Manorun is done by hand and follows the highest ethical standards. Vegetables, herbs, pasture raised livestock, grain and hay are some of the goods you can find on the 25-acre farm. They also offer weekly harvest baskets, where the customers can customize the vegetables they want to receive.
Picture courtesy of Manorun Organic Farms
- Backyard Harvest
Some of the freshest produce you’ll find in #HamOnt. Backyard started by selling produce grown in a single backyard in the Strathcona neighbourhood. After expanding, the Backyard Harvest found a home in the Locke Street Farmer’s Market from late May to early November. Many of the items bought from the Backyard Harvest was picked no more than 3 hours prior to the start of the market. Many of the backyards are also within 12 blocks of Locke Street and therefore, have a very little travel footprint. Today, Backyard Harvest takes place in 11 Hamilton yards and some produce is now being grown at Hamilton’s own Simpler Thyme Organic Farm on HWY 6.