Have you ever wondered why people like organic restauranteur Joshua Manocherian are so committed to eating locally grown food? There are many reasons – some are related to fostering strong communities, others are related to supporting sustainable agricultural practices, and others are focused on health. Here are just a few of the reasons why you should consider adopting an “eat local” approach.
Local food is more likely to be organic
Organic farming practices are very well-suited to small farms. Whereas commercial farming tends to rely quite heavily on the use of pesticides to control weeds and insects, small farms are able to make use of non-chemical practices such as crop rotation, physical weed suppression or manual extraction, and natural insect control. USAD Organic certification is costly and many small farms cannot afford to be officially recognized as organic – however, their farming practices may be identical to those of certified organic farmers. And because the farms are local, you can easily pay a visit to the see for yourself how the farm is run – many farmers welcome the opportunity to explain their methods to the public.
Local food is unlikely to be GMO
Genetically-modified foods are the subject of considerable controversy. For every study that says there is nothing harmful about these foods, there are others that suggest GMO food is less nutrient-dense and may have harmful effects that we don’t currently understand. If avoiding GMO foods is important to you, you can rest assured that small farms are very unlikely to be growing GMO crops. This is because GMO crops are patented by large agribusiness companies and are very expensive for farmers to purchase and grow.
Eating locally supports local farmers which helps the community
Small farming is a tough way to earn a living, especially as small farms are increasingly being “squeezed out” by commercial farms that make use of huge economies of scale. Buying local produce is a great way to support farmers in your community. Successful local farmers contribute to the local economy by hiring farmhands, purchasing local supplies, by spending their earnings in local shops and by contributing to the area’s tax base. Buying locally-grown food also keeps your grocery dollar in your own community rather than having it go into the coffers of a national or international agribusiness.
Eating locally requires a bit of practice and planning. In some communities local supermarkets may stock locally grown foods, but it is more likely that you will find local food at the weekend farmer’s market. Some farmers organize regular deliveries of baskets of locally grown/produced vegetables, eggs, poultry and meat for customers who sign up. While there may be a considerable variety of locally grown food available, it is likely that you won’t always be able to find what you want – locally grown food is by definition seasonal, which means that you will have a hard time finding locally grown fruit in the dead of winter. However, none of this should not prevent you from buying locally grown food when it is available – the benefits far outweigh the challenges!