They were calling to me today – zucchini, tomatoes, pumpkins, and corn. I wandered through the farmer’s market near our house in rapt delight as I passed each booth. Our little farmer’s market is growing, and I was as excited as a kid in a candy store. There were probably twice as many booths today as there have been, and it was busy even though I arrived later in the morning than usual. Is it crazy to get excited about fresh produce? Maybe. But the thought of feeding my family well strikes a chord deep within me and brings comfort to my soul in a way that I can’t explain. It just feels right to buy fresh produce and meat from local small farmers rather than the big box stores. After all, feeding my family is about much more than just putting food on the table. As Andi Ashworth shares in her gem of a book Real Love for Real Life, “One of the vital functions of a home is to nourish, both physically and emotionally, the people who dwell there. When the art of cooking is not practiced, more is lost than good food…A tangible sense of well-being comes to rest on a home where someone is bustling about in the kitchen preparing food that will nourish the body and act as a catalyst for conversation.”
In my attempts to better nourish both the bodies and souls of my family, I have also been learning more about the benefits of buying local. I do buy meat, milk, and eggs from local farmers when I can find it, I grow a small garden in the summer, and take advantage of the available produce at the farmer’s market. But do I read labels in the grocery store to see how far my food has come? Not usually. Did you know that, according to a 2005 study in the journal Food Policy, it is better for you and the environment to buy local than to buy organic? That is because the organic produce often travels so far that the environmental impact outweighs the benefits of it being organic. We have not one but two fabulous new super-grocery stores opening up within a couple of miles of my house in the next two weeks. While I know that everything will be visually appealing and tempting, I will challenge myself to read the newly required Country of Origin Labels and do my best to buy local. If I get really wild and crazy, I may take the Eat Local Challenge. Anyone know where to buy Tennessee bananas?