Are you actually supporting your local farmers by going to farmers markets? Turns out, there’s a good chance you aren’t. I always thought when I went to a farmer’s market that I was buying fresh fruits and vegetables that were grown in neighboring areas. I would walk away feeling proud that I supported my local farmers. Last weekend I noticed the farmers market that I went to was selling garlic from California (I’m from Florida). So after asking one of our local farms about it, I learned about the concept of “reselling”.
What is reselling? Basically, we as a society want to have whatever fruits and vegetables we want all year around (yes, that’s right. Strawberries don’t actually grow all year around). So, when it’s not strawberry season in Florida but California can grow them “off-season”, California farmers grow the strawberries, ship them to Tampa, and “resellers” buy it and sell it at local farmer’s markets.
So why do they call it “local” fruits and vegetables? Turns out, stores/farmer’s markets/the food industry all have different definitions of “local”. Local can mean from the same city, from a neighboring county, from a neighboring state, from the other side of the country, or even a different country all together. It just depends on who you are asking.
I felt pretty let down after learning this. But don’t worry! There is something you can do – talk to the farmers. When you are buying your groceries from the farmer’s market, ask the sellers what they know about the veggies. Farmers who are selling their own vegetables will be able to tell you what soil, fertilizer, sprays, whatever they used. Now, at farmers markets that ACTUALLY support local farmers, there are often signs that specify how local their fruits and vegetables are. At least in Orlando, there is a cool organization called Seed 2 Source that ensures that fruits and veggies that are grown at local farms are taken to institutions within 100 miles of where they are grown. This supports the local farmer and preserves a lot of the nutrients from the fruits and veggies we are eating. Food for thought: The nutritional value of fruits and veggies starts to decline the minute it is cut off the stem. So, how much value are we getting from our grocery stores if we don’t see the fruits and veggies until a week or month after they are cut? (Another article about this is on the way)
The moral of the story is – ensuring your fruits and veggies are from a local source not only helps your local economy, but ensures that the food you’re eating has the greatest nutritional value. Why not get the best of both worlds?
Picture: Photo of mini-watermelons (I call them “Smellons” – shout out to Gourley!) at the grocery store.