This weekend I was teaching one of my favorite classes, Farmer’s Market 101. It is a great way to talk to people about the importance of eating local and seasonal foods and then we go to the market and taste the difference. There are many advantages personally and for the environment for eating locally. My favorite reason is the freshness of the food. Most of the food is picked within in a day or two of when you purchase it. This increases the taste and flavor of the fruits and vegetables. Eating locally decreases the carbon footprint on the environment because food may be traveling 100 miles or less, using a small amount of gas exhaust. If something is flown in from across the country or from other countries the gas used to get to your grocery store is much higher and it impacts the carbon footprint on the Earth. Most simply stated, it adds to the global warming trends in the country. Depending on the farm you might be able to get food that is not grown with pesticides just by asking at the farmer’s stand. Sometimes it is less than the price of organic in local groceries stores. Eating locally supports the local economies and keeps people in your state employed.
I live in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, which includes Maryland and Virginia too. Maryland and Virginia have acres and acres of farmland so we have access to really wonderful fruits and vegetables especially during the spring, summer and fall months. I have the opportunity to talk about what is in season and how to prepare recipes to enjoy foods that people might not know to prepare otherwise. Part of the fun of the class is when the group gets to the market and you have a group of people that are sampling the fruit and giving each other feedback. There are people walking back and forth between the stalls sharing prices and ideas about what to buy and eat. It is a wonderfully visual to show people variations of fruits and vegetables that they might not have seen before. Sharing the experience with others really helps encourage people to come back not just because it is good for the environment and our bodies, but because it is just plain fun!