5 Reasons to Eat Local this Year!
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 stay healthy while eating local!
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. 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 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, it travels less and is stored for shorter durations, resulting in less nutrient loss. Small scale farms pay closer attention to soil health, ensuring 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.
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 cuts down on green house gas emissions. What’s more, small scale farms in BC 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 BC 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 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.