Monday, November 7, 2011

trail setters: 10 reasons to support your local farmers

1. You support more open space in your area. If a farmer can afford to keep their lands, there's less of a chance that their land will get developed into ranch housing or "paved paradises".

2. You support nutritious food in your community. Locally grown food has higher vitamin content, as it can be picked in the peak of ripeness and brought to you quicker than if it had to be harvested under-ripe and shipped hundreds of miles. Also, food grown here is acclimated to our area- I sometimes wonder if certain food allergies are caused by eating food grown far away and if people could digest local foods easier.

3. You support bee survival in your area via the selection of blossoms and nectar sources farmers can supply to pollinators with their crops and orchards.

4. You support your local economy, especially during this hard economic time our country is facing. One of my favorite things to have happen while selling produce at a farmers market is to be checking out two customers and the first customer hands me what instantly becomes the "change" for the second person. For example, the first customer's total is $12 and the second customer's total is $8. The first customer hands me $12 exactly and the second customer hands me a $20. I immediately hand the first customer's $12 over to the second customer as their change. I know it's a little silly, but that is a true visual of the money that is cycling around the community from people shopping at my farmer's produce stand.

5. You support crop biodiversity. I recently read an article in National Geographic that discussed the extinction of several different types of vegetables (such as heirloom radishes and potatoes), caused by mass production of more generic crops. Supporting smaller farmers can help keep heirloom varieties alive.

6. You support the knowledge of where your food is coming from and have less risks for the salmonella and e.coli outbreaks that seem to occur with mass produced food.

7. You support the farmers for the labor they provide! Farmers work very hard, very long, grueling physical days and a lot of them end up with arthritis from all the minute work they do with their hands. We should show them the appreciation they deserve. It's patriotic.

8. You support better soil. Smaller, local farmers' livelihoods depend on the health and fertility of their soils, so more effort is put in to creating living soils rich in organic matter and nutrients through better growing methods and rotation.

9. You support the maintenance of a unique set of skills. The average farmer's age today is 55 and that average is continuing to climb. What does that mean? That less folks are getting into farming. When today's farmers age, who will grow our food? It's important to keep it so that people can actually make a living and support their families through farming.

10. You support your taste buds. Fresh food tastes better. Enough said!

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