Why Eat Local?
There are tremendous benefits to be gained by eating locally and supporting a local food system. For starters, local food is fresher in flavor, it is better for the environment, and it creates increased stability in our local economy. Now more than ever, it is essential that we as consumers recognize our purchasing power and the role we play in the survival of our region's small and mid-size farmers.
The global economy has changed the way many farmers grow, process, package and transport their products. One consequence of these changes has been a reduction in varieties of plants and animals and in genetic diversity. That is why at many grocery stores you'll only find two types of potatoes red "new potatoes" and brown Russets. Farmers growing for local markets, on the other hand, tend to grow a greater diversity of plant varieties and animal breeds selected for their regional adaptability and flavor
Believe it or not, agriculture is Washington's largest employment sector, and each year crop production contributes $9 billion to our state economy.
In King County alone, farmers grow over 200 varieties of fruits and vegetables, plus an array of livestock, poultry, cheese and other dairy products, honey, herbs and flowers. Buying locally grown products helps keep our money nearby by putting more dollars back in the hands of local farmers and circulating throughout the local community. According to research conducted by Sustainable Seattle, for every dollar spent at farmers markets, 62 cents is re-spent locally!
On top of that, shortening the food chain buying food grown closer to home helps improve the state of our environment. According to a recent World Watch Institute study, 17% of global fossil fuel use goes to fertilizing and transporting food. Lucky for us, University of Washington researchers have shown that a Skagit Valley apple requires about two-thirds less climate-polluting energy to grow and ship to local retailers than an apple from New Zealand. The power is in our hands as consumers to make a choice!
Each year, Thanksgiving offers us a prime opportunity to reflect on our cultural traditions and customs as they relate to agriculture and the bounty of our local production. Though our fast-paced lives have distanced many of us from the connection these celebrations have to seasons and seasonal food, we must reclaim these traditions. This year, don't let your food travel farther than your guests!