An Explanation of Local Food: Part 3
The Value of Local Food
At this point, our suggestion is NOT to discount or reduce the importance of Local producers. Instead, we highly recommend that you learn about and engage with your farmers, and Make the Thoughtful Choice about who you’re buying food from.
In doing so, you will understand what values THEY embed within their Local label, rather than what you interpret the classification to mean. To be better equipped at recognizing what the Local label COULD mean, we find it helpful to detail what the benefits of Local food and farms CAN BE.
Local Food as a Safer, Environmentally-Friendly Alternative to a Globalized Food System
One aspect of locally grown and sold food is that it occupies a role separate from products within a so-called Globalized Food System. This means that even if food is grown 400 miles away, it’s likely still produced in a similar climate and has similar seasonality to the location in which it is being bought. Additionally, it likely isn’t being shipped overseas and being handled in as many steps as non-Local food. Those qualities result in a shorter, more intimate food-chain between producer and consumer, which reduces both the carbon emissions due to transportation and the chance of cross-contamination due to improper handling.
Local Food as a Means of Improving Food Security
By growing food for nearby communities, Local farms can help bolster the resiliency of a region in terms of its food security and ability to provide for itself. This occurs in multiple ways. One way that this is accomplished is that Local farms are able to ensure that nutritious food is available to Local populations, and lately, more and more farmers’ markets and grocers even accept SNAP benefits or similar income supplements for good, healthy Local food. A second example of how food security can be improved is that as opposed to large, industrialized farms that monocrop, Local farms TEND to be smaller, grow a diversity of produce, and foster sustainable direct-to-consumer relationships that ultimately help protect and preserve the farmer and farmland.
Local Food as a Way of Preserving Local Identity
The shortened, more intimate food chains found in Local food systems often contribute to communities developing their own customs involving farming, cooking, and eating. Such foodways become important pieces of a population’s Local identity. By fostering this regionalism surrounding food, a community enables its culture to thrive, as opposed to allowing Local culinary customs to be obscured by the imported, culturally irrelevant food coming from global, industrialized food systems.
There are many other benefits and characteristics of Local food. The above is a sample of the items that we consider when we think about our farm and how we fit into the food systems of the communities that we grow for. Much work still needs to be done, from the individual to the global level, but the progress can start with you and FreshBox Farms.
What other benefits and characteristics of Local Food do you think play a role in the food system in your community?
Check back in next week as we share what the future means for Local Food!