Where and Why To Buy Our Food
The vast majority of the food we buy comes from outside the region and the province. The things that we value about food, such as freshness, taste and nutrition, have taken a backseat to increasingly processed and packaged food, available at the lowest cost. Pears from Chile are available year round and can be offered in the supermarket at prices cheaper than local pears. But the cheap prices and availability mask the hidden costs of environmental damage (in production and in transportation to market) and abysmally low incomes for those farmers who grow the food. Fortunately, the trend to cheaper food from halfway round the world is being slowed by a growing awareness that local food tastes better and is better for you. Read on for an overview of some of the many reasons to buy food grown close to home…
Locally grown produce is the freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious food. When you buy locally you know you are buying the freshest possible food for yourself and your family. Greater freshness means you get to enjoy all the flavor and nutrition that is normally lost in shipping produce to market. Local farmers can also grow those old-fashioned varieties of tomatoes or peaches, harvested just as they are bursting with juicy flavor, rather than resorting to varieties bred to withstand the rigors of long-distance trucking and storage. In addition, eating locally grown food is usually what is best suited to our specific dietary and health needs.
Buying locally grown food helps small family farms stay in business. Buying local makes good economic sense, too. When you buy fresh produce at your local farmers market, your food dollars go directly into the pockets of farmers rather than those of shippers, brokers, and wholesalers. That money stays in the local economy, helping to keep our region vibrant and strong. Keeping the money here means greater job security for everyone as the money circulates among our own communities instead of heading to the shareholders who have never even heard of the Kootenays!
Local farms preserve rural areas for future generations. Once lost to development agricultural land is generally lost forever, not only as a source of food, but also as a source of beauty. It is the beauty of the Kootenays which draws the artists, the tourists and those who wish to live in a green and healthy environment.
Buying locally grown food supports ecological diversityLocal farmers respond to consumer demand by growing a huge variety of plant species-some that might otherwise be ignored or even become extinct. By eating locally grown farm produce you will experience a world of taste, colour and texture simply not available at the supermarket!
It provides long term security and safety. Any community unable to feed its own population is vulnerable to whoever is able to. Many in British Columbia remember the winter of ’95/96 when all the mountain passes into our region were cut off by snow storms. There is even greater risk in expecting a continuous and secure source of food from somewhere across the world.
There are many supportive food retailers, home delivery businesses, caterers, and restaurants that purchase fresh produce directly from area farmers. Ask for locally produced food where you shop and eat.