Laura Nayibi Arias, Culture Editor
The concept of locally grown foods is increasingly being discussed as the general public gains awareness on the impacts of food on the natural environment. Its objective is to geographically localize the production and distribution of foods. As opposed to conventional forms of production which are national and international, when one purchases food that has been grown local to their home, such food is less likely to have been treated with harmful preservatives as it does not have to travel across the world to the consumer. This prevents both the consumer and the environment from being exposed to a variety of toxins. Additionally, because the food does not have to be transported, buying locally grown foods discourages this export which eliminates the contribution of carbon into the air from whatever transportation source is being used to transport the food. Ecoevaluator.com suggests that, “sea vessels and airplanes that are used to transport imported food use fossil fuels and produce more emissions than any other mode of transportation. Naturally, these ships and planes carrying imported goods, upon docking or landing at its destined port, will also need large trucks for the products to be delivered to its final destination.”
So the question arises, what is local? While farmers and consumers have different ideas of what local might mean, (local can mean within the state or within a hundred miles from where the food is being produced) most of the time this is completely dependent on what the farmer believes “local” to be. When considering transportation and the differences in environments from one area to another, the more local, the less of an environmental impact the food should have in arriving to the consumer.
The Sierra Club proposes five reasons to buy locally grown foods:
1) you can get to know and trust the producer; 2) all the profits stay and circulate in the local economy; 3) if organic and free-range, the food can be much healthier and better tasting, 4) barrels of oil and gas are not used to transport it from California or a foreign country, and 5) local farmers are more likely to be better stewards of the land.
By now, you should be thoroughly inspired to buy locally. If you are, then you’re in luck because the city of Oneonta has a farmer’s market. Farmers’ markets are communal spaces in which farmers gather to sell their products directly to consumers. Oneonta’s Farmers’ Market consists of all local farmers, within 50 miles of Otsego County, “though most are much closer – within 30 miles of Oneonta,” says Dana LaCroix, market manager of Oneonta’s Farmers’ Market. LaCroix continues to say that pit fruits, which are difficult to grow in our climate, are the only foods that are not grown locally—“pit fruit may be brokered from a state that touches NY State.” Experience the quality of locally grown foods by visiting Oneonta’s Farmers’ Market in the Main Street Garage Walkway every second and fourth Saturday of the month from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (from February to May: Feb. 9 & 23 – March 9 & 23 – April 13 & 27 – May 11 ). Proceed to Oneontafarmersmarket.com for information offered on foods and products ranging from artisan breads to soaps and lotions.
SUNY Oneonta supports local farming as they welcomed a farmers’ market into our campus last fall with the efforts of Assistant Professor in the mathematics, computer science, statistics departments, Dennis Higgins, and SUNY Oneonta’s Campus Events Coordinator, Graig Eichler. The Farmers’ Market operated in the quad on four Tuesdays last semester and will run again next fall. “We had four or five regular participants—local area farmers and artisans. I hope this year to attract more farmers and run the market for longer,” said Higgins. Look out for the Farmers’ Market on campus next fall!
But if you’re wondering about buying locally grown foods in your hometown, visit Eatlocalgrown.com, where founder Rick D’s goal “is to list as many farms, ranches, restaurants, artisans and farmer’s markets as possible that grow or sell local food in your communities.” By going to the cite and typing in your city, state or zip code, you can be reached with farms, ranches, restaurants, artisans and farmer’s markets closest to you. Localharvest.org offers similar resources. Reduce your environmental impact and buy locally!