How far would you travel for a great meal? Five miles? 25 miles? How about 100 miles? Well that’s the premise behind the 100-mile diet.
Across the country, people are dedicating themselves to a healthier, more sustainable way of eating. If you haven’t heard of it yet…get ready…the “Locavore” movement is here and some culinary pundits think it’s here to stay.
Eating locally grown food is not only good for you, it’s good for our environment too.
Purchasing homegrown produce cuts down on “food miles,” or the distance food has to travel from farm to processing site to market, positively impacting our foods’ carbon footprint. A tomato grown in Southern California has to travel about 2,500 miles before it reaches a grocery store in Batavia. By contrast, researchers at Iowa State University found that locally grown produce travels an average of 56 miles from farm to market resulting in fresher, more nutritious choices for us and for our families.
Surprisingly, a whopping 40% of our fruit is produced overseas then hauled in freighter ships or flown across the ocean before it reaches American tables.
Buying local allows you to enjoy fruits and vegetables at their peak of freshness and flavor. There’s a reason why asparagus is at its tender-best in spring, and why blueberries are so tasty in July.
Visit a farmers market and develop a relationship with a local grower; most farmers are thrilled to share their knowledge and experience with their customers. Ask about the challenges your local farmers face and what they’re doing to address them. Ask about the weather! Any farmer will be pleased to talk about how the growing season is going and how that affects the food they grow. Get answers to questions like: When are strawberries in season? How might I use kohlrabi? What should I do with all this zucchini?
If you’re still not convinced that a Locavore lifestyle is for you …consider this: in a recent survey conducted by CNNMoney.com, 69% of respondents said that it is important to keep food dollars in their communities by buying from a farmer’s market. Buying direct from a farmer sends 90% of those food dollars back to the farm. However, although Americans spend more than $600 billion in food annually, it is most often spent at a grocery store or chain (think Super Wal-Mart, etc.) - with only about 7% of local food dollars staying in the community. The remaining 93% of the modern food dollar travels to pay processors, packagers, distributors, wholesalers, truckers and the rest of the infrastructure that a global food system demands.
More food dollars staying in the community, through buying local, translates into thriving Main Streets and local jobs. It means that more money can be spent locally by the farmer to run his/her business and home, helping to keep the local economy alive. Eating locally grown food raised by farmers who actually live in their communities. What’s not to love about that?
Note: Patricia Hawley is the market manager of the Genesee Country Farmer’s Market. The Market is open on Tuesdays & Fridays from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Batavia Downs parking lot (through October 30).