Thursday, April 7, 2011

Think Local

South of the James Market, Forest Hill Park
Richmond, VA

After a long and cold winter, spring is finally here and I couldn't be happier! Spring is one of my very favorite seasons and I’m so excited for all of the lovely things this season brings. I adore the return of birds and their serenades, the smell of fresh cut grass, longer days, and best of all, locally grown salad greens, asparagus, strawberries, and itty bitty potatoes!

Why local? Unlike corporate agriculture, family farms are run by people who live on the land and care deeply for it. They understand the importance of protecting the soil, and growing food for flavor (not shelf life.) The food is almost always weeks fresher than anything trucked in across state or national borders. Family farms help preserve cultural and family values with respect for hard work and a deep appreciation for the land. Local farmers who sell directly to consumers are able to cut out the middlemen. This allows them to make enough money to support their families and stay on the farm, doing the work they love. By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful and abundant food.

Best of all, local produce tastes better and is better for you. Why? Fresh produce loses nutrients quickly. In a weeklong (or more) delay from harvest to dinner table, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality. Produce may have traveled surprisingly far to get to your grocery store, whereas food grown in your own community was probably picked within the past day or two. Buy Local and taste the difference!

I feel very lucky to live in a city that is large enough to offer an abundance of farmers markets, in addition to grocery stores that support local. Elwood Thompson's is a grocery store in Richmond that is committed to supporting local farmers. Not surprisingly, it's one of my favorite places to shop! Some grocers define local as 250 miles, but Ellwood is focused on offering products that are within 100 miles of their store. Better yet, every department in the store has local offerings. If you’re lucky enough to have a grocery store in your community that supports local, please support them!

As always, bon appétit!

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