Why buy local?

farmers' marketDid you pledge to visit a farmers’ market in 2013? @1800 Culinary Team Member Kellen Ferkey writes about the amazing ecological, economic, and environmental benefits of buying local.  

First, we need to discuss what “local” means.  You really need to draw a wide arc when it comes to local foods in Wisconsin.  The viability of crops in our biosphere dictates that we have an abundance of vegetables in the summertime and loads of potatoes and starches in the winter.  I am slightly cheery when I can find ingredients from within our upper Midwest region. I find myself happy if I can source a dish inside the state’s borders, and I’m elated when I can make it happen within our county or those adjacent to ours.

Wisconsin has been home to me for all of my years, and though I have moved around the state, Stevens Point is the place I will be sure to always call home base.  When I travel anywhere, I still love coming home to our extremely fluctuating temperatures and amazing public school system.  I have family members that will continue to be some of our local organic farmers.  I can’t wait much more to see what will happen with the greenhouse downtown.

Buying from local farmers on a consumer level is great; it ensures that those farmers get to keep their lands and produce strains of vegetables that have been handed down for thousands of years.

The biodiversity of an orchard alone can boggle the mind.  You find multiple heirloom varieties of apples, pears, cherries and plums that are planted to grant the farmer income throughout the year.  Buying those fruits not only provides you with a great diet, but it also guarantees that your money is staying within the community.

A local farmer may transport a bushel of potatoes to and from the farmer’s market three to four times before selling it.  And that may be at the cost of 20+ miles a trip, but it’s nowhere near the amount of gas and oil it takes to get your tomatoes from Chile shipped here for your salad.

Many people do not have the space or time to garden.  I understand it can seem like a large burden, but to walk into your growing space in the morning and pick zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers for breakfast every day is indescribable. A garden may generate cost in the form of water, seed and lawn space, but it should also provide a sense of self sustainability.  Teaching children how to garden and get dirty was my mother’s favorite pastime.

The bottom line is this:  The dollars you spend in your community for goods and services will always benefit those around you.  That money keeps local farmers working, provides open spaces for the future, and promotes energy conservation.

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