First, let me do a short introduction. My name is Conni, and I own a vegetable farm called Gallatin Grown outside of Bozeman, Montana. You can check out my story of how I became a veggie farmer on my website www.gallatingrown.com. Spoiler alert: I didn’t want to be one. So yes, I come to you today as a vegetable farmer, but originally I didn’t understand the value of local, fresh food. However, there are many different reasons why I now believe eating locally grown food is beneficial, and it is not just because that is what I do. Since becoming a farmer, local food has become a passion of mine. Below are a few reasons why I think local food is worth it.
– It generally lasts longer. I have often been frustrated with how quickly produce spoiled after I brought it home from the grocery store -specifically salad greens. I have found that freshly harvested greens stay good in my fridge for over a week! I was lucky to get more than a couple of days from my grocery store greens. Why is this? Iowa State University cited that the average distance food travels to an American’s plate is 1,500 miles. That distance takes some time to travel. Couple that with multiple warehouse drop-offs and temperature changes, and it is a recipe for spoiled produce.
– It can save me money. Every time I throw spoiled food away, I am throwing my money with it. This is where quality and freshness matters. This is where planning ahead matters. The Natural Resource Defense Council found that the average American home wasted 25% of the food they bought. That translates into an estimated $1350 – $2275 in annual losses for a family of four. That is a lot of money.
– It tastes ridiculously better. Seriously. Garden fresh produce is a reminder of what food should taste like. Did you know carrots are supposed to taste sweet and tomatoes are NOT supposed to be mealy? I didn’t know these things until I started growing them myself. In fact the list of vegetables that I did not like before I became a vegetable farmer is embarrassingly long. I didn’t know vegetables were supposed to taste good! I encourage you to do a taste test of your own.
There are many different ways to buy local food. Often there are certain grocery stores that highlight locally grown/raised food. Farmer’s Markets are a very popular way to incorporate local food into your meals. Some farms offer U-Picks, Farm Stands, or Community Support Agriculture (CSA). A CSA is where a person buys a share of the harvest before the growing season begins and in return gets a weekly box of produce for a designated amount of weeks. Not sure where the farms are in your area? Check out www.localharvest.org and search for a farm in your area. Not all farms are registered on it, but it can be a great launching point when seeking out local food.
Photo Credit: Bill Buckley