Local Farmers Market

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Tremendous quantities of food are wasted after production – discarded in processing, transport, supermarkets and kitchens – and this wasted food is also wasted water, finds a policy brief released Thursday at World Water Week in Stockholm.

Source: Environmental News Service. Read more…

 

In Michigan we don’t think about fresh water as a ration. Not until other States discuss siphoning off water from the Great Lakes. Reservoirs, dams and levies are not concerns here. Which is not to say we don’t care about our water, we do –now.

Michiganians have a shameful history of pollution. I explain it to my kids this way; “industry and people put things in the water that they didn’t want around. The water carried the bad stuff away. No one thought about where the bad stuff went.”

It seems that along with eliminating pollution in the water, we need to stop wasting precious water. We waste water in obvious ways; on our green lawns, during a long shower, and when we leave the tap open needlessly. But we waste water in less visible ways too.

Growing crops requires an enormous amount of water.  No one here is suggesting that you stop eating foods grown in soil. I’m suggesting only that we eat all we produce. When we throw away the food we buy, we toss out all the resources used to grow, ship and produce the food along with it.

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Our British friends have created a web resource that addresses the need to reduce, or heck, lets set the bar high and say, eliminate food waste.
If like me, you are not British, some suggestions from Love Food, Hate Waste can be puzzling. Example; I have never had leftover bangers to deal with. And I think to “blitz”, means puree in a blender. Really, I like the site’s local lingo, it helps me feel part of a larger community. While written for the UK, the suggestions and recipes are completely doable here in midwest USA.

 

Why does water use matter?

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I bought these apples at the Farmers Market yesterday. Are they some of the ugliest apples you’ve ever laid eyes on? It’s okay- it’s doubtful these apples would appeal to anyone. In fact when I asked the grower what variety they were, she seem genuinely surprised by the question. Maybe because to her, they’re obviously Macintosh apples. Maybe because she’d decided that no one was going to be interested in her sad looking apples. I insisted I was serious; I wanted them for applesauce. (I’d like to add, she was also selling very nice Ida Red apples)

As I see it, applesauce is their destiny.

There is no sense peeling and slicing perfect apples for sauce, right?  So I bought all her ugly little apples for a price that made us both happy.

As I type, five pint jars of  no sugar needed applesauce are processing.  Would I seem self congratulatory if I said, I’m happy I was able to make something useful from unwanted apples?

(cost for each pint of homemade sauce is $1.40)

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While everyone has their own reasons for buying locally grown seasonal foods, reducing their carbon footprint could be reason enough. The peaches, nectarines, berries and grapes we find in the supermarket in April might come from as far away as Chile –that’s thousands of food miles.

The benefits of eating seasonally and locally are not limited to reducing the use of fossil fuel in the food chain though.

While eating seasonally and locally can be a way of life that revolutionizes how you eat, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Grow some of your own fruits and vegetables (even if it’s just a few tomatoes), shop at local farmer’s markets (use the RealTime Farms market locator), buy into a CSA, or even continue shopping at your local supermarkets (ask a store manager, many supermarkets carry local produce, but don’t always label it “local”). Even if you do buy out of season sometimes, simply eating seasonally and locally when you are able to will improve the quality of the food you eat and reduce your carbon footprint.

Okay, now I feel as though I’m preaching to the choir. If you’re a realfoodmom reader, you are certainly aware of all the reasons for eating  minimally processed, local and organic foods. Nevertheless, when you’re tempted to buy strawberries in March, remember all the reasons why you wait for them to be locally available:

  1. Local food tastes better. Shipped produce is almost always picked before it is ripe.
  2. Local food is more nutritious. Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.
  3. 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 their land.
  4. Local food builds community. Knowing farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. In many cases, it gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren can go to learn about nature and agriculture.
  5. Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community tomorrow. When farmers get paid more for their products by marketing locally, they’re less likely to sell farmland for development. When you buy locally grown food, you’re doing something proactive to improve the way foods are produced.

I try to stock up on all our favorites throughout the growing season. Here, that’s June through September. Freezing produce is so incredibly simple. Of course some fruits and vegetables are better suited to canning. Tomatoes for instance; you can’t freeze tomatoes. Well, you can, but you wont be happy with the result. Simple, step-by-step instructions make canning almost as simple as freezing.

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