5 reasons to eat local in 2019
You’ve likely written your list of New Year’s resolutions by now, so in case you’ve forgotten to add “eat local” to it, let us inspire you with our top five reasons to shop at farmers markets and #BuyBCLocal in 2019.
1. Eating local tastes better. Most food lovers are driven by the pursuit of flavour. If you’ve ever grown a garden, then you know that food harvested right before you eat it tastes 100x better than something from the produce aisle. 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, reflecting its unique terroir.
2. Eating local is healthier. Due to the intensive industrial practises that have dominated food production over the last 70+ years, many studies now show that our fruits and vegetables contain less nutrients than they used to. Poor crop rotation, soil depletion, and longer durations between picking and eating all contribute to less vitamins, minerals, and healthy, soil-based organisms (i.e. probiotics) in your diet. Locally grown food not only tastes better (see reason #1), it travels less and is stored for shorter durations, resulting in less nutrient loss. Small scale farms – particularly organic and biodynamic operations – pay closer attention to soil health, ensuring that their land receives the right kinds of amendments and crop rotation to lock the nutrients in.
3. Eating local is good for the local economy. Shopping direct with producers at farmers markets keeps your food dollars circulating in the community – over $15 million in direct and indirect economic benefits are raised each year through Vancouver Farmers Markets alone! In a province where an acre of farmland can cost as much as $350,000, it’s crucial to support BC farmers and ranchers by putting money directly back in their pockets – reducing the need for them to sell at a reduced cost through wholesale distributors and middlemen.
4. Eating local is better for the environment. The fewer miles your food travels, the smaller its carbon footprint. Simple, right? With the average head of California lettuce travelling over 1,500 miles from field to plate, it’s easy to see that buying produce from a local farmer – many of whom come from less than 50 miles outside Vancouver – cuts down on green house gas emissions. But the positive environmental aspects of eating local go way beyond that. Small scale farms in BC, which represent 40% of all farm operations, tend to follow organic, biodynamic, and low input (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) growing and grazing practises. This reduces soil and water contamination, protects wildlife, and prevents soil erosion.
5. Eating local protects farmland. Only 5% of the total landmass of British Columbia is considered suitable for agriculture. Though much of this is currently protected by the Agricultural Land Reserve, farm and ranch land is constantly under threat from development, high real estate prices, and urban sprawl. A recent report from Kwantlen University suggests that it’s not enough to just hold land in the ALR – it needs to be utilized for food production in order to keep it viable. Simply put, when you buy local food, you keep farmland in production and BC farmers on the land.
Need to stock up on farm-to-table goodness? Our weekly Winter Markets at Riley Park and Hastings Park are Vancouver’s best source for local and in season foods from November – April. Find out more at eatlocal.org.