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10 Reasons for Buying Local Produce

06/20/02 12:00AM By Vern Grubinger
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(Host) Commentator Vern Grubinger's storage crops ran out long ago so he's eagerly awaiting the bounty of locally grown produce that's soon to come.

(Grubinger) Vermont is blessed with a variety of farms that raise fruits and vegetables, flowers and herbs, and animals of all kinds. Our farmers are dedicated to stewardship and committed to quality. And while they love what they do, they aren't doing it for entertainment. They need to make a living. As consumers, we should support local farmers by buying their products. Here are ten reasons why.

Locally grown food tastes better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products like cheeses are hand-crafted for best flavor. Food imported from far away is older and has traveled on trucks or planes, and sat in warehouses before it gets to you.

Local produce is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food.

Local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern agricultural system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly, withstand harvesting, survive packing and last on the shelf, so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties to provide a long season harvest, an array of colors, and the best flavors.

Local food is safe. There's a unique kind of assurance that comes from looking a farmer in the eye at farmers' markets or driving by the fields where your food comes from. Local farmers aren't anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously.

Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food - which helps farm families stay on the land.

Local food builds community. When you buy direct from a farmer, you're engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. In many cases, it gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.

Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they're less likely to sell farmland for development. When you buy locally grown food, you're doing something proactive to preserve our agricultural landscape.

Local food keeps taxes down. According to several studies, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the cost of required services.

Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms conserve fertile soil and clean water. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife.

Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow.

With an ear to the ground, this is Vern Grubinger.

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