Singing the Praises of Local Food

Photo credit: my talented friend, Katie Cannon (www.katiecannonphotography.com)

Anyone who really knows me knows how passionate I am about nurturing a strong local food system here in Minnesota (and everywhere!) and how I believe in the power of local foods to cure so much of what ails us. Strong local food systems equal food security. Strong local food systems support rural communities and give people interested in farming a fair shot at earning a living. Strong local food systems foster the health of people and the planet. Interested in curbing climate change? Buy local. Concerned about animal welfare within our food system? Buy directly from a small local farmer.

The reasons to support family farmers go on and on, and the evidence supporting the local movement is dang compelling. Here are a few reasons to connect with nearby farmers (and make a new friend in the process):

Why buy local?

  1. Local foods are fresher. Buying local produce cuts down travel time from farm to table. The longer fruit and veggies spend on a truck or in storage before being delivered to you, the greater the loss of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. The moment a piece of produce is picked or cut, its enzymes begin decomposing and feeding on precious nutrients. Researchers at Montclair State University revealed that the vitamin C content of broccoli was cut in half when it was shipped from out of the country compared to when it was sourced locally. A study at Penn State University found that spinach lost 47% of its folate after 8 days.

  2. Local foods are seasonal. True, it would be great to have fresh tomatoes and berries all year round, but eating seasonally means avoiding “artificial ripening” with gases or eating a bland version of a fruit or vegetable that’s been shipped thousands of miles. Eating seasonally results in the most delicious and nutrient-dense produce.

  3. Local foods are better for the environment. Some foods are shipped literally thousands of miles; that is a big carbon footprint that could be avoided by purchasing local and seasonal foods. For example, the average carrot has traveled 1,838 miles to reach your dinner table.

  4. Local foods preserve green space and farmland. Buying foods grown and raised closer to where you live helps maintain farmland and green space in your area.

  5. Local foods promote food safety. Less distance between your food’s source and your kitchen table leaves less of a chance of contamination.

  6. Local foods promote variety. Eating locally promotes diversity in one’s diet. Farmers who run CSA (community-supported agriculture) programs, sell at farmers markets, and provide food to local restaurants have the demand and the economic support for raising more types of produce and livestock.

  7. Local foods support your local economy. Money spent locally stays local. Purchasing locally builds your local economy instead of handing over the earnings to a corporation in another city, state, or country. Also, since the food itself moves through fewer hands, more of the money you spend will end up in the pockets of those raising and growing those foods.

  8. Local foods create community. Ever find yourself spending much of your time at the farmers market chatting and socializing in addition to purchasing your produce? Getting to know your farmer, cheese purveyor, fishmonger, butcher, workers at your local co-op, etc., creates a sense of community, which is important for everybody.

Adapted from articles from the University of Minnesota and the University of Washington.

 

Local Food Resources in Minnesota

For CSA (community supported agriculture) farms:

www.minnesotagrown.com

 

For a list of farmers selling direct to consumers (especially during COVID-19): 

www.minnesotacooks.org

 

To find restaurants working with local farmers around Minnesota and serving quality foods, check out the farm-to-table directory at Minnesota Cooks:

www.minnesotacooks.org

 

To visit two of my favorite Twin Cities farmers markets:

www.stpaulfarmersmarket.com

www.millcityfarmersmarket.org

 

For a wonderful, satisfying, local food experience in Northeast Minneapolis:

www.foodbuilding.com

 

For Animal Protein:

www.pettitpastures.com (grass fed beef)

www.ykeracres.com (pastured pork & grassfed beef)

www.redtablemeatco.com (salumi)

www.ferndalemarketonline.com (turkey)

www.ironshoefarm.com (pork, beef, chicken, and more)

www.lowryhillmeats.com (butcher shop)

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