Back in the day, before supermarkets were on every corner of your neighborhood and people didn’t just buy the familiar brand of frozen dinners to chow down while watching an episode of their favorite sitcom, food, grown by a local farmer, had a greater value both nutritionally and economically.
Now, buying an average piece of fruit has been the norm for people looking for a convenient and cheap way to get their produce. Biting into watery, tasteless strawberries for so long, we’ve probably forgotten how strawberries are really supposed to taste- like sweet, juicy pieces of heaven!
Yet in the more rural areas, where people can actually pick the fruit they eat, no sacrifice is needed except for time, which let’s be honest, is the biggest sacrifice of all for people living in a major metropolis.
Being a chef in Los Angeles for more than five years has given me access to some of the best local produce there is, and I immediately fell in love with it all. Even though I love to cook, I left the business to focus on what I was really passionate about- reconnecting with the land and all the great sustenance this beautiful world had to offer. Ok sure, I didn’t move to Idaho and start harvesting potatoes, but I made personal relationships with farmers which led me to create Handpicked by Mckenna—a service that brings the best produce from the farmers market straight to your door, offering convenience without sacrificing quality.
Now, let’s get into some fun facts on why buying locally and supporting farmers is not only beneficial to you personally, but also good for your community.
This may seem obvious, but when you support a local farm, you are supporting your economy. In light of the recent events, it’s important that we ensure that the farms that exist today will be there tomorrow.
Farmers have been the backbone of this country since the very beginning, working hard to provide people with sustenance. When you shop at a supermarket, only a small percentage of that gets into the pocket of farmers. We can give back by taking care of our farmers like how they continue to take care of us.
Something that may not seem as obvious, but is equally important is the effect that buying local has on our environment. Buying local reduces the environmental impact of transporting food from the farm to the consumer. Commodity produce travels 30 times the distance of the food harvested from local farms, increasing its dependency on fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers are also using more sustainable practices. A healthy earth means a healthy life!
In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and have shelf stability, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. So despite the limited varieties of produce we see at the supermarket, there are thousands of varieties of fruits and vegetables, which can add some fun and color to your meals!
Side note- Did you know that one farm can grow an average of 14 varieties of yellow peaches alone, not including all of the white peaches, plums, pluots, nectarines, and apricots? Amazing!
Before the pandemic, shopping at the farmers market was actually a fun activity. You can take your kids, maybe meet up with a few friends, do some shopping, and eat some lunch while listening to a band play some music around the picnic tables. Now that there are limitations on what we can do at the farmer’s market, it doesn’t mean we should stop supporting!
Ways To Support Your Local Farmer:
- Sign up for a CSA Box: Community Supported Agriculture boxes are a great way to get the freshest produce possible. CSA boxes are filled each week with whichever items are the “ripest” and ready to be picked! CSA also helps farmers get movement on certain produce that may not be as “popular” in order to keep the farm going! You can easily sign up for a CSA box pick up at your local farmer’s market with your favorite local farmer.
- Shop Directly: Shopping directly at your local farmer’s market is a great way to support your farmers! Farmers bring their bounty every week to different farmer’s markets and shopping right from the farmer is a great way to support them financially and build relationships!
- Visit a “U Pick” Farm: U Pick is a great way to connect even more with where your food is coming from! With U Pick, you can visit the farm directly and pick the freshest produce yourself for a small fee. It is a great bargain for the buyer and a great way for farmer’s to get more people involved in their farm.
- Eat at more “farm to table” establishments: Eating at local restaurants that support local farmers is a great way to support two small businesses with one action! Eating at establishments that use local produce is not only good for nourishment but it is a great way to keep your local community thriving! Do a little research to see where your local restaurants are buying from, you will be glad you did!
Mckenna Lelah is the owner of Handpicked by McKenna – a small, local, woman-owned business that allows you to play a part in all of the positive impacts of supporting local farms without having to leave your house. Let’s continue to live a happy, healthy life while building a stronger community.