Decades ago Long Island – my home and the home of NCP – teemed with farms, which supplied a growing New York City with fresh fruits and vegetables and livestock. More recently, suburban sprawl has led to much of the area being filled with homes. However, there are still many family farms within a few minutes’ drive from almost any place on the Island.
There is nothing better than to take a drive out to the eastern part of Long Island and stop at the many roadside stands or farm stands along the way. You can find a wide variety of tasty local crops and goods. (And if you didn’t know, Long Island has a very respectable wine market!)
There are many reasons to buy local, according to the University of Vermont Extension:
- Locally grown food tastes and looks better. The crops are picked at their peak, and farmstead products are “hand-crafted” for best flavor.
- Local food is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from fresh food.
- Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Local farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full retail price for their food – which helps farm families stay on the land.
- Local food keeps taxes down. According to several studies by the American Farmland Trust, farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the cost of required services.
- Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.
Do you have farmer’s markets near you? And if do, what are your reasons for buying local food?
So which products do consumers really care about buying local? According to The Nielsen Company, produce tops the list, as 58% of consumers state that buying local produce is important to them. The majority of consumers also say local is important when it comes to bakery, eggs, and food service.
As for which consumer groups feel strongest about buying local, low-income consumers are more likely to say that buying local is extremely important to them across all products compared with the general population, according to Nielsen. Young families say buying local is extremely important to them for their deli items, bakery, produce, as well as their shelf-stable and frozen goods. And Millennials say local matters most in the frozen department.
ALSO! Please remember if you purchase any fresh produce without a barcode, to make sure and use the appropriate listing in the Barcode Reference Booklet if you use a handheld scanner, or if you have the NCPMobile App, the Non-Barcoded Items listing in the app.
So if you get a chance, visit a local farm stand and enjoy the freshness! Have a great weekend!