I was going through the produce section of a local supermarket the other evening and I was a little surprised and disappointed.
This is what I found:
Most of the sweet potatoes I see in the grocery store would have been “graded out” as “culls” when I was younger. Long days of standing and grading them into such classes as “number ones”, “number twos”, “canners”, “jumbos”, and “culls” give me the authority to say that.
The same is true for most of the other fruits and vegetables in the supermarket today. The processing, packing, and shipping over long distances takes a toll on the produce. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for the mass availability of fruits and vegetables, especially during the off seasons. The quality may suffer as a result but there is more available for more people than any point in history. There is nothing wrong with supermarket produce, it just suffers from the problems of mass production and long distance transport.
When you are looking for top quality fresh produce, local is better. There is a better way to get fruits and vegetables picked at the peak of perfection and taste, and without the problems of being bounced around for hundreds of miles: If you can’t grow them, buy them from local farmers!
Buy fresh locally grown produce from local farmers
Here are a few ways you can do this:
Most towns and cities have a venue of some type for a “Farmers Market”. If they don’t, there will probably still be a place where a few local farmers hang out on the the corners to sell their crops. Often these impromptu markets become the foundation for permanent farmers markets. If you don’t have a farmers market, check where the farmers sell their produce locally.
Local fruit stands
In lieu of farmers markets, some cities may have a few fruit and vegetable stands. In such cases, local farmers often sell their produce to such outlets, providing a place for you to buy them for your diner table. You still get fresh local produce, and it has traveled through relatively few hands.
Friends and family
You probably know someone who knows someone who farms in your area. Ask around. You might be surprised at the abundance available nearby when you do a little local food networking!
Online farmers markets
This idea is the perfect marriage of local and global, hight tech and basic “hands in the dirt”: Online “Global Local” websites! Organizations like “Pick-A-Pepper” put local farmers in touch with local buyers using the power of the internet. This effectively turns the internet into a local and global fresh food farmers market. This process allows the buyer and the farmer to both benefit from the speed of the internet.