Posts Tagged ‘CO2 emissions’

Eating Locally Through The Winter

It’s getting easier to eat fresh, local produce long after gardens have been put to bed.

Many farmers’ markets and CSA’s have extended their season into winter and early spring instead of closing down at the end of October. Green houses and hoop houses allow them to offer even more produce options.   Restaurants also feature locally grown and produced food all year-long.

Ithaca Farmers Market

Ithaca Farmers Market (Photo credit: mhaithaca)

Local produce choices depend on where you live, but in the northeast, farmers’ markets continue to sell root vegetables, onions, peppers, potatoes, winter squash, kale and other hardy greens, apples, and cranberries. Additionally you can also find local organic meat and poultry, freshly caught seafood, homemade baked goods, local organic chocolates, fresh spice blends, maple syrup and more.

Most gardeners have already made and canned fresh tomato sauce, jellies and jams enabling them to eat the bounties from their harvest well into the winter, but with a basement or a root cellar and a freezer you can also stock up on vegetables, fruits, and herbs from the markets.  Easily frozen or dried, you’ve got “fresh” herbs when your recipe calls for it.

So what’s so important about eating locally?

The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Produce is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen, or processed using preservatives or irradiation, losing important nutritional value.  With locally grown food there is less chance for spoilage or contamination since it doesn’t travel great distances.

Local food is grown using organic or IPM (integrated pest management) farming practices, with little or no petroleum-based fertilizers or toxic pesticides. Picked at peak freshness, local produce is tastier and more nutritious.

Farmers’ markets support local farmers and the local economy.  Because the farmer sells directly to the customer, he can eliminate the middleman and keep more of his profits.  Farming is hard work and a precarious business.  Their yield is totally weather-dependent and it feels good to help them.

Farmers’ markets create a sense of community, a place where friends and neighbors can gather.  They are a way for farmers and consumers to connect with each other.  They also offer a venue for musicians and artists.  In cold climates when hibernating sets in, this extension of summer is a welcome respite.

Check out the winter farmers’ market schedule in your town!

 

Farmers’ Markets Are Back!

It’s that time of year again; farmers’ markets are back!  Lettuces, kale, swiss chard, pea greens, radishes, strawberries – there’s lots of early spring produce, especially with greenhouse grown vegetables.  You can also get locally raised eggs, meat, and poultry, fresh-baked goods, locally produced cheeses, potted plants and herbs, handcrafted soaps and lotions, and artisanal items.  Every week it’s something different.

I’m thrilled that the farmers’ market concept has caught on.  The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Produce is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen, or processed using preservatives or irradiation, losing important nutritional value.    With farmers’ markets, food is grown locally using organic or sustainable farming practices and picked at peak ripeness.  Fresh and nutritious, there is nothing tastier than a vegetable or fruit straight from the farm.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Photo by: Wikipedia

There are many other advantages.  When you shop at a farmers’ market, you are supporting local farmers and the local economy. The farmer sells directly to the customer; middlemen are eliminated and the farmer gets to keep more of his profits.

In this era of prepackaged foods, there is little direct connection to our food.  At a farmers’ market, you meet and get to know the people who grow your food and they get to know the people who eat the food they grow.  Today’s children will grow up understanding that their food doesn’t just come in a plastic bag from a giant supermarket, instead someone actually plants the seeds, cares for the tender plant and then harvests the fruit or vegetable.

photo-2

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ markets bring the community together; they are a place for neighbors and friends to connect.  Participating local musicians, food trucks, art shows, and children’s activities make food shopping a real event.

Local farms help preserve open space, protect the land and promote healthy ecosystems.  With sustainable farming, the soil isn’t contaminated with toxic chemicals, keeping our waterways safe.

I participated in the Mashpee farmers’ market on Cape Cod last weekend answering green living questions.  Shoppers and vendors were happy, enjoying the warm summer day.  Customers chatted with the farmers and admired the fruits of their labor.  One vendor even sings opera! Farmer’s markets provide an old-fashioned respite from our fast-paced, wired lives.

Mashpee Commons Farmer's Market

Mashpee Commons Farmers’ Market

So, take a break and visit the farmers’ market in your town.  You’ll enjoy more than the delicious and nutritious produce grown in your area, you’ll enjoy the whole experience.

If you are in the Mashpee area on Cape Cod, stop by the Farmers’ Market at the Mashpee Commons and say hi.  I’m there most Saturdays – the market runs from 1:30 – 6:00!

Some information compiled from winchesterfarmersmarket.org.

 

WHY LOCAL FOOD?

 

Image by Elizabeth Buie

 

The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. It is picked unripe, then gassed to ripen it. Or it is processed using preservatives or irradiation. Scientists are experimenting with genetically modified foods to extend the shelf life, but what about the unknown long-term effects? Local food is usually transported only 100 – 200 miles, has fewer pesticides and can be picked when ripe, making it fresher, more flavorful and more nutritious.

You want to eat seasonally as much as possible – lettuce, asparagus, new potatoes in the spring, peaches, plums, summer squash, peppers, berries, melon in the summer, apples in the fall, root vegetables in winter, citrus fruits in the winter, etc. In other words, don’t buy strawberries in the dead of winter.  You know they have been shipped from thousands of miles away.

The New England growing season is short, so how do you eat locally the rest of the year?  It’s a challenge, but summer’s bounty can be canned, preserved or placed in cold storage.  Early fall is a great time to buy local food for preserving – farmer’s markets, farm stands and even supermarkets have an abundance of just picked produce.  It’s important to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, so off-season, “local” might mean the East Coast.