|Why Eat Local Food?
Submitted by Leigh Bak, MS, RN, CDE
Eating local foods is better for you, for the environment, as well as for your taste buds. Here
are a few
reasons to consider eating more local foods; a little food for thought…….
Local Foods Are Fresher and Taste Better than food that been trucked or flown in from
another country thousands of miles away. Try a taste test between spinach picked
yesterday and spinach picked last week, factory-washed (with water that may be
contaminated), and sealed in plastic. Fresh food lasts longer too.
Local Foods Support Your Local Economy Money spent with local farmers and restaurants
that use locally grown food all stays close to home, working to build your local economy
instead of a corporation in a distant state or country. Since the “middle men” are reduced,
more of the money you spend tends to get to the people growing your food.
Local Foods Promote Variety Farmers who run Community Supported Agriculture Programs
(CSAs), sell at Farmers’ Markets and provide for local restaurants have the demand and the
support for raising more types of produce. We were so fortunate to get the most delicious
Zeppelin Squash in our CSA allotment last summer, something I was never going to find
that in Stop & Shop or ShopRite!
Local Foods Usually Have Less Environmental Impact When food is shipped thousands of
miles, it leads to a big carbon footprint for a little bunch of herbs. What about all that
packaging? And what about the chemicals that are used to treat the crops that eventually
end up on your plate? Look for farmers who follow organic and sustainable growing
practices and energy use to minimize your food's environmental impact.
Local Foods Create Community It’s a wonderful thing to connect with the people who grow
your food. Maybe you’ll visit with the farmer who grew your beets and broccoli. Maybe you’ll
get to pick your own blueberries or help milk a cow! Or perhaps you’ll pick up some
handmade soap (or ice cream) or be entertained by a local ukulele group while you pick up
your fresh-picked produce at a local Farmer’s Market.
What is a CSA? Community Supported Agriculture, often shortened to CSA, is a prepaid
subscription to a farm's produce for the season. Most CSAs give shareholders a weekly
supply of veggies, herbs and fruits. You know it's fresh and you get to meet the farm and
people who grew your food! The prepaid CSA arrangements also makes it a source of
financial security for the farmer. Some CSAs also incorporate farm workdays for
shareholders. Two CSAs in Milford are Rivercrest Farm (owned by Mary Taylor’s own
Maria & Andy Macri) and Robert Treat Farm. We can’t believe the bounty of great food we
get in our CSA allotment from Rivercrest Farm; plus it’s a joy to visit with the Macri family
and all our farm animal friends.
Another way to enjoy local food is to grow your own. Whether you put a vegetable patch in
the back yard or some patio pots on the deck, nothing beats a fresh Brandywine Tomato
that you pick on your way in the door! And if you don’t want to dig up your yard for a
vegetable patch, consider joining a community garden. Contact the Milford Recreation
Department (203-783-3280 x 8) to sign-up for a 20X30 foot plot in the Benson-Crump
Community Gardens on North Street. This 2 acre, 135 plot fully-organic garden was
started in 1968 and is going strong. Gardeners run the gamut from lifelong farmers to
novice first-time gardeners and represent a true cross-section of the Milford Community.
The people there are generous with their gardening wisdom as well as their produce. Last
year, in addition to feeding themselves and their own families, the community gardeners
also did their part to feed the Milford community with their PAR (Plant-a-Row for the
Hungry) Program; over 900 pounds of fresh produce was distributed to soup kitchens, food
pantries, shelters, schools and directly to our neighbors in need. ~With information from
www.localharvest.org and www.localfoods.about.com
We are also looking for
able to drive on an
occasional basis. If you
need a ride or can help
out by driving, please
call or email the church