Why Eat Local?
Buying locally grown food can be your contribution to the well-being of our planet, as well your own personal health and well-being. Buying locally grown products supports local farmers and ranchers and keeps land in agriculture. Simply put, buying local is the right thing to do.
So why should you care about farmers and ranchers? Agriculture, whether or not you ever think about it, is part of the very molecules of your being. If you eat food, wear clothes, or live in house made with wood products, you are involved in agriculture, and the choices you make help determine the future of agriculture.
1. Taste the difference.
At a farmers' market, most local produce has been picked within 24 hours. It comes to your table ripe, fresh, and with its full flavor, unlike supermarket food that may have been picked weeks or months before.
2. Meet your neighbors and farmers.
Local eating is social. Studies show that people shopping at farmers' markets have 10 times more conversations than their counterparts at the supermarket.
3. Get in touch with the seasons.
When you eat locally, you eat what's in season. You'll remember that cherries are the taste of summer. In winter, comfort foods like squash soup and pancakes just make sense.
4. Discover new flavors.
Even familiar foods become more interesting when you buy them from the farmer and hear their story. Count the types of pear offered at your supermarket. Maybe three? Small farms are keeping alive nearly 300 other varieties -- while more than 2,000 more have been lost in our rush to sameness.
5. Explore your home.
Visiting local farms is a way to be a tourist in your own "backyard."
6. Save the world.
A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a diet based on food shipped across the country.
7. Support small farms.
In areas with strong local markets, the family farm has been given new life. Farms and ranches preserve open space and provide natural firebreaks around communities.
8. Give back to the local economy.
A US study showed that almost twice the contribution of a dollar stayed in the local economy when spent at a local food business compared to a supermarket. Buying direct also ensures you pay the true cost of food.
9. Be healthy!
Eating from farmers' markets and cooking from scratch makes you feel better; you are eating more fresh fruit and vegetables and fewer processed products, with fewer additives.
10. Create memories.
Making jam, eating fresh local food and drinking a bottle of local wine with a friend is a more lasting memory than the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
1. Make the choice to buy local.
Start with making the choice to buy local and plan for it. Make a conscious commitment to buy local products, and put it on your schedule. Start with something manageable for you: once a week or once every two weeks or whatever works for you. Look through your kitchen and decide what you could buy locally. Even if you don’t cook, you can enjoy fresh local fruit year-round. You don’t have to change your whole lifestyle, but choose local as often as you can. Every choice counts!
2. Go to the Farmers' Market.
You can buy fresh, local produce directly from the grower at a Certified Farmers’ Market. Choose to visit a farmers’ market in your town once a week, on the weekend or on your way home from work. Find markets convenient for you at:
- Brunswick Farmers' Market (Nevada County)
- Foothill Farmers’ Market (Placer & Nevada Counties)
- Mill Street Farmers' Market (Nevada County)
- Nevada County Growers’ Market (Nevada County)
- Nevada City Farmers’ Market (Nevada City)
- Sierra Fresh Farmers' Market (Placer County)
If your family eats a lot of vegetables, fruit, or meat on a regular basis, consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture- see glossary) farm or meat buyers club.
The Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club offers monthly deliveries of grass-fed beef, lamb, goat, pork and chicken to local pick-up locations. Pasture raised, organic eggs are also available.
4. Shop at local produce stores that carry locally grown products.
A few of the Nevada and Placer County markets that feature local produce:
- Blue Goose Produce, Loomis
- The Briar Patch Co-op, Grass Valley
- Machado’s Orchard, Auburn
- Newcastle Produce, Newcastle
5. Ask where a product is grown.
Wherever you shop, ask where the produce is grown if it isn’t labeled, and request locally grown produce. If enough shoppers request local products, area grocery stores may start to buy locally.
6. Plan a family visit to a local farm.
Visit a farm and plan your menu around your purchases. Or intentionally take a different route home that takes you by a farm that sells fresh fruit or vegetables. Do respect farm rules and pick only when you are invited.
Use the Nevada County Farm Guide or the PlacerGrown website to find local farms and ranches.
7. Learn the seasonal cycles of local produce.
Learn what is in season and plan your menus around available products. The changing seasons add variety and interest to meal plans. For information on seasonal produce, go to What’s in Season this Month?
8. Learn how to handle, store, and cook fresh produce.
If you don’t know how to use or cook certain fruits or vegetables, many growers have recipes, and they can tell you how to best store their products. Our Produce Pages provide helpful tips on how to buy, handle and prepare locally grown produce.
9. Feature in-season products in your meals.
Eating fresh produce at its peak is a rich experience and contributes to the success of the whole meal. Fresh local produce has rich, deep flavors and does not need a lot of cooking or added condiments to be delicious. Keep up with what is currently in season by checking out What’s in Season this Month?
10. Try preserving for flavor year-round.
Drying, canning, fermenting, and freezing are great options for preserving foods to enjoy later. Purchase extra produce in-season and relive the great taste when it is no longer in season and imported produce doesn't look so great.
We have a list of basic resources on food preservation, and there is a wealth of information on safe food preservation available from UC Cooperative Extension in science-based publications which can be ordered (and some downloaded free) from an online catalog. Or you can visit the Sacramento Master Food Preserver website or the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Change happens one decision and one person at a time. Make a different choice today, choose to eat local first!