Ever wonder how long it took that sweet, juicy, mouthwatering pineapple to make its way to your plate? Well, on average, in Canada most produce is transported at least 2,500 km from its point of origin to your table. With all our plush green fields and fertile soil, would it surprise you that we are the sixth largest food importer in the world? The Summer months however are the ideal time to make a change and choose more local, in season produce by visiting local farmers markets.
Eating locally grown versus imported foods has many benefits to our health, farmers and the global community. Globally, agriculture is the biggest factor responsible for climate change, deforestation, damage to marine ecosystems, and species extinction. Purchasing locally grown produce can decrease your carbon footprint as it takes less time, energy and resources to get that food to your plate.
Buying locally grown fruits and vegetables is a healthier, fresher option as well. Because local fruits and vegetables are picked ripe they retain more nutrients and even taste better. Studies have shown that local produce contains more phytonutrients (plant chemicals that are important for health and disease prevention) than imported produce. The produce you get from your local farmers market is often picked within the same week however imported produce could have been picked weeks, even months before it makes its way to your table.
In addition, when you buy local produce you support your local community and economy. Attending local farmers markets can be fun and engaging. Meeting farmers and asking questions about their harvesting practices allows you to be actively involved in your health and the farming process. When you attend a local farmers market you can often sample heirloom varieties of different fruits and vegetables not always seen at your local supermarket.
Support local farmers and get the benefits of locally grown, in season food, by visiting a farmer’s market in your area. Here is a list of Toronto’s markets and if you are outside Toronto, a simple internet search can find one near you.
With the availability and accessibility of farmers markets greater now than in the past 10 years, it is a great time to step outside of your comfort zone and experience a farmers market firsthand.