Thursday, March 29, 2012

Myth: I can't eat "local" produce because I live in the city and I'm not close to any farms.

Answer: BUSTED!

Locally grown produce is accessible and has many benefits.

Eating local can mean eating produce from your backyard, from farmers’ markets in your community, and from retail grocery stores who are offering more and more locally grown produce. Consumer demand for fresh and safe produce, which supports local farmers and helps the environment because it is not trucked so far, has pushed grocers to make local produce available. Retailers have different definitions for what “local” is, and while local produce is fresher, measures are taken to ensure food safety for all produce. Some stores may purchase produce from a neighboring state or from a farmer in their community. Both are good because it means the produce does not have to travel across the country or from another county altogether. It is also important to note that local does not mean organic. If you’re looking for organic be sure to check that it is certified organic. Growers must meet specific terms described by the USDA National Organic Program to be referred to as “certified.”

fresh produce at farmers' market
Farmers’ markets are becoming more commonplace in urban areas. Eating local means that you are eating produce that is in season. Produce that is in season is more affordable and tastes better. Buying produce at farmers’ markets gives you the chance to develop relationships with the farmers who grow the produce. You can ask the farmers questions and find out how the produce is grown, if it is organic, and the day it was picked.

Another way to eat local and in season is to join a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm. Farms charge a fee for membership that entitles the subscriber to a weekly share of fresh grown food from the farm. The only downfall is the risk that if there is a drought or floods, you may not receive produce.

Some tips for buying and eating local in Missouri:
  • Find local farmers’ markets and shop in season
  • Dine at restaurants that serve local produce
  • Join a CSA
  • Contact your local University of Missouri Extension office to help find farmers’ markets near you
  • Ask your local grocery store what local produce they sell and where they get it
  • Check out Seasonal and Simple, a guide for enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables
  • In Missouri, if you receive Food Stamps, you can use your Missouri Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) to buy seeds and plants for use in gardens to produce food for the personal consumption of the household.

For more information and tips, visit these websites:

Contributor: Denise Schmitz, M.A., R.D., Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 816-482-5850

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