Buying locally not only sustains an agrarian culture on which Tennessee tradition thrives, but you benefit as well. In-season fruits and vegetables from your local farmer provide the freshest flavor and nutritional value which far exceeds the produce that has been shipped across the country in a truck, or that which has been sitting on a shelf in your local grocer. Additionally, livestock raised in our state offer a savory, juicy flavor that one can only get from fresh cuts.
Buying locally has many advantages for the consumer. For starters, local foods simply taste better and are higher in beneficial nutrients. Typically, within a few days, vegetable and fruit sugars naturally begin to breakdown, plant cells begin to shrink, and nutrients are lost, leading to less appetizing and less nutritional produce. Local produce has been harvested within one to two days of purchase generally and, therefore, retains much of its flavor, crispness, color, vitality, and nutrients that suffers when produce is traveling from hundreds of miles away. Likewise, locally-raised chicken, beef, and pork, are higher in essential nutrients, are fresher, and have a flavor and texture that is more pleasing to the palate.
Local foods preserve genetic diversity and provide more options. Many local farms grow plenteous varieties, such as prized heirloom tomatoes, in order to stretch out the growing season. Seeds are passed down each generation to preserve the diversity of fruits and vegetables that are available to us. Buying locally ensures that farmers continue to provide a diverse range of agriculture with an array of choices.
Local food supports local farm families and fosters stronger communities. Unfortunately, farming is a vanishing tradition. Over the past 40 years, the number of farms and farmers has decreased by 60 percent. When farmers have the opportunity to sell directly to local consumers, more dollars go back into their farm to sustain their livelihood and also back into the community to support the local economy.
Local food fosters the future. By supporting local farms, you can ensure that farming will be a time-honored tradition from which future generations will benefit.
The website, www.sustainabletable.org offers these help suggestions:
- Check out the "Eat Seasonal" page to find when foods are in season in your area.
- Buy food directly from your local farmer at a farm stand or a farmers' market.
- Join a Community Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) group and purchase a farm share.
- Encourage your local grocery store to stock food from local farmers.
- Visit the "Shopping Guide" for CSA information, farmers' markets, and other sustainable outlets.
Consider an investment in taste, flavor, and freshness by buying healthy local foods raised and grown right here in Tennessee by farmers who work hard to bring goodness to Tennesseans. For more information on Tennessee's local sustainable farms, visit www.picktnproducts.org.