1. Why eat local? There are any number of reasons for eating food that is locally produced and not moved long distances to market, to include taste (our #1 argument here at threebeansonastring), higher nutrient content, and a healthier local economy. There are a number of fantastic books, web sites, and other resources on the local food movement, but for a quick overview, we recommend this video from food journalist Micheal Pollan over at nourish.
2. Is it more expensive to buy local fruits and vegetables than it is to buy food shipped from thousands of miles away? It depends. Small farms rarely receive subsidies, so the cost can be passed on to the consumer. But in our experience, the produce at local farmers markets can be less expensive than produce at some higher priced grocery stores, possibly because removing the middle broker lowers the price.
3. How can I get started with eating local on a budget? We recommend starting with your own garden if the season is right. A relatively inexpensive backyard garden can provide much of your family’s produce through summer, and if preserved, through the rest of the year. Even a simple herb garden grown in containers on the back deck can make a difference for your family’s budget, and the joy of eating food that you grew is something that you can’t get from a grocery store, or even from a farmers’ market.
4. Does local also mean organic? No. Organic food is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. There’s been quite a bit of debate over whether consumers should choose local or organic food. We believe it’s best to choose food that is both local and organic whenever possible. As with all other produce, the best organic food is grown close to you. Because there isn’t a nationwide standard for use of the term “organic,” we recommend getting to know your farmers and asking questions about the food you buy. You can’t do that if your food was grown in Mexico. If faced with a choice of choosing food that is local, or food that is organic but was produced on the other side of the country, we’d pick the local stuff.