How Farmers Markets Help the Community and Planet
More and more, people in Coquitlam, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam are seeing the benefits of purchasing locally grown food. According to McGill University, “There are many definitions of ‘local food’, but the concept is based primarily on distance. Many people like to purchase food locally by starting within their own community, then moving out to the region, province, country and so on. This type of food consumption is the basis for the popular 100-mile diet, which promotes buying and eating food that’s grown, manufactured or produced within a 100-mile radius of the consumer’s home.”
Here are 6 benefits of buying local food:
- Local Food Contains More Nutrients
Most food travels a great distance to get to Coquitlam. In the winter, you see produce from South America, The United States and Mexico in the grocery store. In order for produce to arrive fresh, the University of Toronto Food Services tells us, “it is often harvested early so the produce doesn’t spoil on the journey, packaged with preservatives and beaten around on the way. Once produce is harvested, it begins to slowly lose its nutritional value. The longer it has to travel and sit in the store before it makes its way to your fridge, the less nutritional it is.” For food containing the most nutrients, check out your local farmer’s market and pick up locally grown, seasonal fare for your entire family to enjoy.
- It’s Better for the Environment
“In Canada, particularly in winter, most fruits and vegetables are transported at least 2,500 km from their point of origin to your table,” says Caritas Canada. “While it may seem like you’re paying more for those local fruits and veggies, you’re actually paying for the quality rather than the convenience. Imported produce must be transported in, a costly business. In a way, you are paying more for the greenhouse gas emissions of importing those tomatoes than you are for the actual tomato,” reports the University of Toronto Food Services. At a time when we are all conscious of our impact on the environment, we may need to give up eating those fresh blueberries from Chile over the winter. But we don’t have to sacrifice blueberries altogether. Purchase locally grown blueberries and other fruit in the summer, freeze, and enjoy all winter long in smoothies, crisps, muffins, waffles and pies.
- It Supports Local Farmers
Farmers derive their income from the food they produce. When you purchase food locally, you are supporting local farmers, “so they can keep farming. That helps to create affordable, nutritious, high quality food for the future. When you buy local food, you are helping to preserve our valuable farmland for future generations,” states UnlockFood.ca
- It’s Better for the Local Economy
Of course, keeping our money flowing through the local economy benefits other local businesses as well. According to the University of Toronto Food Services, “when you invest your money in local produce, that money goes to [local] farmers, to aid in continuing their business, and will likely be reinvested further into the community by them as they use local services and products to run their own establishments. This circulation of currency allows the local economy to flourish. Additionally, opting for local can also reveal any gaps in the local market which the community can fill, resulting in more jobs and a little more self-reliance.”
- Local Food Tastes Better
Many of us have grown fruit and vegetables in our own backyard gardens and we do this because it’s more flavourful than the produce coming from the other side of the world. Vancouver Farmer’s Markets state, “Many of our farmers harvest their produce the day before and sometimes even the morning of each market to ensure peak freshness. Producers who sell at farmers markets are also more likely to grow unusual and heirloom varieties of fruits and veggies that contain better flavour, while seafood vendors and foragers bring products that are wild harvested and indigenous to the region.”
- You Get to Know The People in Your Community
Visit any local farmers market in summer or winter and you have the opportunity to meet local growers and the people in your community. It’s a hub of activity and a pleasant, relaxing way to spend a couple of hours, sampling local fare and getting to know your neighbours.
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