Warning, by reading this blog I claim no responsibility for the cravings your feel or the money you may spend at a local market this week. Topic may be sensitive to some readers and cause hunger pangs or drooling.
It’s local food week! So what? Why should we care? Many reasons! When I think local food, my brain jumps to sense filled thoughts of walking into a farmer’s market with all the fresh aromatic strawberries and the rich, bright colours of the vegetable cooler. It’s a superb time to celebrate the fantastic foods grown nearby.
Women play a large role in local food. As shared in the Ontario Farmer last week by Alex Binkley, horticulture has the largest agricultural sector of female managers at 25%. This doesn’t account for the numbers of women who share management duties. I realize horticulture is NOT the only provider of local food, but let’s help them out and support! When food is purchased from a market or direct from the farm, a larger portion of the profits go directly to the farmer. Local food travels less distance, often removing middle people, therefore increasing profit potential for growers and local sellers. So let’s aim to bump that 25% female managers to 50%! By purchasing local food, you are supporting your own, local economy. When you put into the local economy, we usually get back. We all do better when the economies in our local communities are strong. Women make up the majority of small-scale farms in the world, but have a much smaller portion of the wealth or land ownership. When purchasing or buying locally, you allow smaller farmers to reinvest, grow, or diversify, further stabilizing their business.
Have you every participated in a berry U-pick? Or consumed food that was harvested earlier that day? Its undeniable, it just tastes better. One of my first jobs was picking peas and berries for my aunt and uncle’s local farm and market. Perhaps it was the reward that accompanied the job, but those small harvests’ tasted the best. Later, in my university years, I spent a summer helping to conduct research for berry genetics for blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. It was near impossible to resist “tasting the research” when harvesting, measuring, weighing, and counting the berries. Local food means its not long harvested or packaged and will be full of maximum deliciousness.
Probably the coolest benefit of local food, is the sense of community created between growers, sellers, and consumers. Once I tried asking a grocery store employee what a durian fruit tastes like. His response, ” I know it smells like sh**.” This response is less likely when you purchase local food. At farmer’s markets, you can ask the butcher which particular cuts of pork pair well with other foods and how to prepare them. By nurturing the relationship between producer and consumer, we are ultimately improving the sense of community for everyone. Consumers like to know how produce is grown and raised and are more likely to trust someone they can discuss face to face with. Producers and sellers are able to interact and get feedback and concerns directly from the consumer. Eaters gain insight about the land, what is in season and their food. Women play have a vast role through communicating, networking, and contextualizing these relationships as the main grocery purchasers and a growing population female farmers.
- Robyn Walsh @walshrobyn