It is interesting to think about the food situation on the Llano Estacado. It is one of the most heavily-farmed regions in the world, yet most people living here generally eat foodstuffs from elsewhere. One of the things Local Llano is most passionate about is increasing access to food from our region through the information resources we offer. We believe that food is meant to be enjoyed as an experience and that has never easier to do in the Llano Estacado than during farmers market season.
Farmers market season is one of our favorite times of year because it widens the local food movement to area residents that do not grow their own, but still want to experience the vibrancy of locally grown and raised products. Our last blog was the beginning of a series designed to communicate some of the benefits of eating locally or becoming a “locavore”. We have 5 more great reasons this week.
5 More Reasons to Take Advantage of Your Local Foodshed:
1. Eating Local Can Provide Better Nutrition
Of course there is nothing more nutritious than fresh fruits and vegetables, unless of course those fresh fruits and vegetables are a product of proximity. Locally-grown produce is more nutritious in many cases because it is on your table shortly after harvest. This is because a fruit or vegetable is either growing or decomposing. When produce is pulled from the soil or plant, it begins the decomposition, or ripening, process because it is no longer able to take in nutrient elements from the plant. Once this occurs, it begins to decrease in nutritional content. Locally-grown fruits and vegetables do not loose nutritional value sitting in a warehouse or delivery truck hundreds of miles away.
2. Eating Local Is Tastier
Have you ever noticed how store-bought produce just never compares to the stuff your neighbor pulls from their garden? There are several factors involved, but it is no stretch of truth to note that locally-grown produce just tastes better. As soon as that tomato is ready in the fields, you will find it at your local farmers market to buy. No strange chemicals are applied to make it ripen in the truck on the way over and nothing is added to slow it from rotting. It is just a good, fresh tomato from your community’s backyard. Eating locally is a far tastier experience.
3. Eating Local Is More Flavorful
Not only are the taste profiles more robust, deeper and more savory with local-farmed foods, but they are also more flavorful as a whole. Small farmers can tweak and experiment with their crops because they do not have to meet any large company’s expectations for consistency on behalf of thousands of customers. Instead, local farmers can test and offer new varieties every year. They do not have to breed something that stays fresh for weeks at the cost of flavor. The additional flavor varieties also come as a result of not being the product of monoculture farming wherein only one crop is grown at a time on a plot, reducing the soils fertility and thus the products’ variety of flavor over time. Eating locally not only tastes better, but there is more variety in flavors to experience.
4. Eating Local Is Seasonal Eating
Seasonal eating is the freshest, most appropriate eating you will do all year. Ever had a winter strawberry and been less than excited about its flat taste and strange texture? That is because it was not in season for your neck of the woods when you ate it. This means it was either grown in a greenhouse laboratory or hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Eating locally is the best way you can ensure you will be eating produce harvested in season. In season means they will be juicier with greater complexity of flavor than any lab could grow or than any produce could maintain being hauled across the hemisphere. Eating food cultivated in this area provides the best fruits and vegetables four honest seasons can produce: honest food feels, looks and tastes better.
5. Eating Local Provides Regional Food Self Reliance
Imagine that our Llano Estacado gets the majority of its food from outside of the region. That causes a real over-reliance on things beyond our control. Our food supply is not necessarily a factor we want to be putting into the hands of someone thousands of miles away. It leaves us in a vulnerable position. It also leaves us without any real recourse when it comes to food-safety violations. It puts the power to exercise choices related to our communities’ nutrition in our hands. We can make decisions about our food locally, as a community, and not be at the mercy of some multi-national conglomerate with a North American office in some place like Lincoln, NE. Eating locally empowers our Llano Estacado family-owned farms and the communities they serve.
Help Local Llano be Up-to-Date:
Have a locavore food-related “how-to”, growing, preservation (pickling, canning, fermenting) idea you have not seen us feature? Include it in the comments along with any local producers or farmers markets we have missed. We are also interested in seeing your unique Llano Estacado recipes highlighting our local varieties. We will keep you in the loop for tips to “experience your local food shed”, we would love your help. Let us know what we are missing.