Source: Are you hungry for healthy food? Where do you go to get your supply of fresh produce, dairy, and meats? Do you trust your current food supply? If you have any doubt about your current food supply, Samuel K. Burlum shares how to get back to basics and support your local family farm.
Most households get their food supply from the local grocery or convenience store. Communities have been waking up to the notion that they need to be aware of where their food comes from; how their food is raised or made; which chemicals are introduced into their food supply chain; and about the impact in which factory farming and long-distance farming has on the environment. The answer to the demand to better food sourcing has been the rise and acceptance of the local family farm.
Farmers markets have been on resurgence throughout the United States. Parking lots and municipal city centers in just about every Main Street, USA, have played host to a community of healthy living advocates who bring together local family farms, local vendors who have sustainable practices, and green healthy products and services, bridging the gap between local consumers and the farms.
The concept of field-to-table, cutting out commercial factory farming and the supermarket, and even produce grown outside the country, has grown in popularity as individuals take more interest in how to better feed their families. The average local farmers market usually sets up and is open for four to six hours, one day a week.
Family farms that have found value in gaining access directly with the community of customers who are looking for a way to increase the health and well-being of their families, and demand the food they are putting on the table can be trusted. These family farms have expanded their product and services, where once they only grew produce, might also offer honey, jams, and specialty prepared foods.
Multiple studies, both by schools of thought and by non-profit organizations, have proven that the most sustainable method for feeding communities is to support local family farms that can provide their goods and services with minimal need for transporting the food from farm to market.
One of the elements to consider when choosing your produce is “how long has the produced been picked from the field?” As soon as fruit or vegetable is selected and picked from the plant or vine, it no longer can be supplied water or nutrients from the ground. The produce would need to be consumed as close to the time it was picked in order to retain and offer the best nutritional value to the consumer. The longer produce needs to be preserved, the more it is exposed to chemicals (used for food preservation during long distance transport). These chemicals are either introduced during the growing process or they are sprayed on during processing and packaging of the produce.
The local family farm provides a host of solutions in living and eating healthier. The local family farm may wait until the very last minute before picking produce from the vine, which makes their produce the freshest offered in local community. Some family farms do not believe in the use of toxic pesticides or fertilizers ridden with chemicals. Some family farms utilize industry best organic growing practices, leaving their produce to be of the highest natural quality offered. Some family farms will also only feed their livestock and fowl organic feed and hay, thus allowing for their meat supply to also be free of chemicals.
Some large grocery chains were quick to adopt “from the field to the table” experience, and only source from local regional farmers, and will only offer certified organic fruits and vegetables. Since the organic healthy living revolution took hold, just about every major grocery food supermarket chain now offers a line of both organic non-GMO and traditional food products.
Though these types of purchasing arrangements assist some local farmers, many are not as lucky. They work eight months in the fields from sun up to sundown, leaving little time to market their goods to large chain stores; thus relying on their own roadside farm stand stores and the local farmer’s market.
Local family farms need your business, and in order to provide balance in the community of healthy living and food supplies, we need them. Take the time to stop in your local farmers market and support a local family farm today. It just might be one of the healthiest choices you make.