Local Produce is a Win-Win

Maybe this has happened to you. You are standing in the produce section at the big box grocery store comparing regular produce with USDA certified organic produce. Regular produce looks robust, plentiful and the price fits the budget. Organic produce looks unsubstantial, scarce and the price threatens to break the budget. So, what’s the point of buying organic? Why would I pay twice as much for half the quantity?

Nutrient density. Well, at least that is my hope.

I have most likely invested more of the Huber grocery budget than I should in organic produce over these winter months. Produce begins to lose its vital nutrients as soon as it is harvested. Most of our produce has been picked early and transported for miles across country. The organic label is supposed to assure me of a GMO and pesticide free product that meets a higher standard but it still has to be trucked from who-knows-where.

With summer heading our way my budget and I are finding relief in the new growing season. I get my hands a little dirty at home trying to encourage some veggies and berries to grow before the snow flies again. I do all right as long as I stay on top of picking, protecting and preserving. Last year we accidentally left our electric fence off for one night and the deer ate all of our tomatoes. Other years we have had bugs get at our berries. Sometimes we end up too busy and veggies rot on the vine. No good. My heart breaks at the waste. Each spring I am determined to be a better gardener and give those tender plants the time and love they deserve.

Hopefully my garden will thrive and I will be up to my pitchfork in cucumbers, kale, and raspberries but if not, I have a backup plan – The Old Forge Farmer’s Market!

I know what you are thinking. “Of course she is going to put in a plug for the market. She is one of the Market Managers.” That is true. I am one of those, but I would plug the farmer’s market even if I didn’t live here. I have a passion for living close to the land and using what it produces to meet my needs.

Did you know that there are several farmers’ markets and farm stands in Herkimer and Hamilton counties? According to Cornell Cooperative Extension “local foods are fresher and more nutritious than foods that have traveled many miles…” Also my investment locally keeps dollars in the community supporting the livelihood of the farmers and the landscape of the countryside.

I am going to say goodbye (for a while) to that agonizing decision over whether to pay for organic produce.  I can’t wait to start seeing spring harvest products at the market in a couple weeks! You can find a local food list of all of our Herkimer County markets at http://blogs.cornell.edu/cceherkimer/programs/local-foods/local-farmers-markets/. For other areas you can check out www.localharvest.org and search your state for local produce, meat, eggs and dairy. Happy shopping (and gardening)!

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