The Important Reason You Should Buy Your Produce Locally

It's no secret that vegetables taste better from a farmers market than a grocery store, but why? If anyone knows, it's Emma Hearst, the James Beard Award-nominated chef and co-owner of Forts Ferry Farm, which is located just outside of Albany, New York. The farm and kitchen is a family-run business that has planted deep roots in the community, providing a space for locals to come to find seasonal, farm-to-table produce. But it also brings it to them. Forts Ferry Farm sets up shop every weekend at local farmers markets, providing even more access to fresh, local produce. And it's a far cry from what you'll typically find at the grocery store. 

According to Hearst, the less distance your produce takes to get to you, the better it tastes. Unless it's labeled as local, grocery store produce most likely got there through a grocery distribution company rather than coming directly from local farms. Whether it be from Canada or Mexico, as is most common for produce found at grocery stores in the U.S., the produce that is sourced this way travels an average of 1,500 miles to get to you — and those miles have detrimental costs when it comes to the flavor of your fruits and veggies. But that's not all. "Farmers market shopping is a great way to circumnavigate and disrupt the corporate food system that pretends to operate like a farm. When you support local farms you bypass the gnarly food system web and get true farm to table ingredients," Hearst told Tasting Table. 

Shopping small has a big impact

Produce that's been sourced from local farms tends to be fresher and, therefore, tastier — and that all has to do with transportation. For example, fruit that is sourced via grocery transportation companies can go through several different supply chains before making its way to your cart. In order to withstand all the moving, travel, and time spent in storage, produce is often picked before it's fully ripe (which explains why you can rarely find an avocado that's ready to use). While the tactic may keep the produce from getting damaged or spoiling while on its way to you, it jeopardizes the flavor. On the contrary, produce that comes from farms in your local community gets the time to ripen fully, ensuring that it boasts its fullest, freshest flavor when it gets to your plate.

Shopping locally isn't just about flavor, however. There are a number of different benefits to buying your produce directly from farmers in your community. Not only are they more nutritious than the produce you'd find at the supermarket, but they tend to be better for the environment too. In addition to the emissions it saves on transport, the produce you find at the farmers market is generally grown using sustainable agricultural methods that are intended to sustain your local community's natural resources so they can provide fresh, tasty produce for generations to come. In fact, buying food locally is one of the many ways you can fight food insecurity in your community.