In the food world, all right-minded eaters are supposed to eat locally, seasonally, and sustainably. The term locavore, which was added to the Oxford American Dictionary in 2007, has become part of mainstream vernacular for food discourse.
What does this mean for the movement? While eating local may not be a sensible option for everyone, you can start building your personal 100-mile food system right here, at your local farmers markets.
When I go to my neighborhood farmers’ market, I am not there to make a political statement or revamp the food system. I am there because the foods taste good and I like coming out every Saturday to discover what’s new. As I routinely come back to my market, I discover a natural rhythm – tender asparagus and strawberries mark the height of spring, while stone fruits like peaches and apricots, announce the arrival of summer.
What makes farmers market produce unique? Why buy local?
Health Know what farmers do for pest control and protect your body from pesticides and E. coli.
Taste Food is sweeter, crispier, and fresher. Reduced travel time allow farmers to harvest fruits and vegetables when they are ripe, resulting in more flavors and higher nutritional values.
Variety At farmers’ markets, you will find ample heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables that are not available in large-scale agriculture. Buying heirloom promotes diversity on farms, which means healthier land and reduces use of pesticides.
Environment Farmers’ market produce do not necessarily mean organic (although some are), but by choosing to buy from local farmers, you are reducing carbon footprints and supporting biodiversity as well as conservation of soil and water. To read more about organic, visit CCOF website HERE.
Connection All farmers must grow and sell their own fruits and vegetables directly to consumers in a Certified Farmers Market (certified by the Agricultural Commissioner). Feel free to ask farmers about their farm and produce. Your grocery comes with a story (farmer, market, name).
As former food editor for Seattle Weekly Jonathan Kauffman rightly points out, what sets a farmers’ market potato apart is the knowledge that this potato is “not a 79-cents-a-pound-on-sale potato, a commodity potato, a shove-this-in-your-mouth potato, just-a-potato potato.”
Does a farmers’ market potato really taste that much different from a “just-a-potato-potato”? Not really, but to locavores like myself, I believe that knowing the farmers who sell me my food and eating heirloom varieties as well as what’s available each season, provides a more direct sense of connection to my food.
Citation: Kauffman, Johnathan. “And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Our German Butterballs".Seattle Weekly 30 June 2009.
Saratoga Farmers’ Market Bio:
Started by Gail Hayden, a former member of the State of California Department of Food & Agriculture, in 1994, California Farmers’ Markets Association (CFMA) manages 12 certified farmers’ markets in San Francisco and Greater Bay Area. Its mission is to bring small family farmers directly to the consumers. For more information about CFMA and its markets: http://cafarmersmkts.com/