Ray’s Take It’s the time of year when local farmers’ markets start to crop up. Patronizing these markets – along with other sources for locally grown food – can be beneficial to your health and taste buds, your family culture, and even have a positive impact on our local economy.
Locally produced foods don’t have far to travel to get to you. That means they are typically riper and fresher. Since nutritional value declines with time, the fresher the produce the healthier. Plus, even if you don’t opt for organic foods, locally raised fruit and vegetables will probably have less exposure to chemicals as small farms are less likely to use them as aggressively as factories do. An added bonus: since they don’t travel hundreds of miles, local food also has a smaller carbon footprint.
Patronizing local farmers has a number of other benefits as well.
By supporting local farms you actually discourage urban sprawl, since a farmer who is profitable is less likely to sell his land to developers. While farmers typically get only 20 cents out of every food dollar you spend, buying directly from the farmer gets him the whole dollar. Plus, since these farmers are local, the money stays here, circulating through our economy to drive more purchases, which in turn creates more jobs.
Eating local also encourages biodiversity. Small farmers are more likely to grow the heirloom fruits and vegetables not always found in supermarkets. This not only helps preserve a wider gene pool, it also helps guard against the consumption of produce that has been bred for shipping and shelf life rather than taste and nutrition.
Depending on what you buy, you may or may not save money at the moment. However, you will be buying food in-season, when it is most abundant and at its flavorful peak. You can then freeze or preserve what you buy for savings later, when the same crops are out of season and more expensive.
We make the trip to the farmers’ market a family time, letting our kids help pick their own fruits and vegetables – which makes them much more likely to eat them! They enjoy getting to know the farmers and their families.
That makes eating locally even tastier.
Dana’s Take The most local food of all is grown in your own backyard, even if it’s only a couple of pots on the patio for herbs and heirloom tomatoes.
Growing food at home is also a lesson in patience for children. Practicing patience is essential for good money habits later in life. Just like leaving carrots in the ground to mature, interest grows fortunes when allowed to compound.
In today’s world of instant downloads, children need more experience with waiting for what they want. So plant a garden and allow your children to reap the benefits of letting that watermelon grow big and juicy before picking and eating it. Hopefully, later in life that will translate into a more fruitful investment portfolio.
Ray Brandon is a certified financial planner and CEO of Brandon Financial Planning (www.brandonplanning.com). His wife, Dana, has a bachelor’s degree in finance and is a licensed clinical social worker. Contact Ray Brandon at email@example.com.