The term “local food” is certainly not an unfamiliar one. I hear a lot of talk these days about eating locally. And I know several people who try to eat locally whenever possible for a number of good reasons.
We live in an age of global markets, with most of us buying our food from chain supermarkets, convenient stores and fast-food outlets. We seldom think about where our food comes from or how it was grown or processed.
Before globalization, the foods people ate were all local and seasonal. Today the food we eat is often grown on large industrial farms before being shipped across the country or from overseas to huge distribution centers where it is sorted, packaged and processed before it is trucked to retailers. Of course, this means that a remarkable diversity of food is available all year around for consumers who can afford it.
Unfortunately, the environmental consequences of food globalization, such as the ecological impacts that result from large-scale production of cropping food in monocultures with intensive use of pesticides and the air pollution resulting from expanded mechanization and transportation, aren’t so obvious. Nor are the impacts food globalization has on our health (31.8 percent of American adults are now considered clinically obese) and local communities, where family farms and dollars that might otherwise remain in the area have been lost.
I’ve heard people who appreciate food that is grown locally refer to themselves as locavores, a term that originated in 2005 in an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle. But the definition of “local” is often vague. Some people consider food from the Albany and Syracuse regions or from Vermont local.
Their concerns have more to do with sustainability than proximity to home. They buy from sellers they know or have a relationship with or they buy products from companies they know are producing products in sustainable ways.
More resolute locavores, however, support neighbors and friends from within their town or from nearby. These folks tend to grow at least some of their own food, shop at farmers markets and roadside stands, or join their neighbors’ CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). CSA participants buy a membership (or “share”) in a farm, which provides seed money for the grower. In return, members receive weekly portions throughout the season (i.e. honey, maple syrup, eggs, cheese, meats, jams and jellies).
Locavores will also purchase only locally grown starter plants for their gardens, as well as locally produced non-food agricultural products such as perennials, cut flowers or wool. Of course, there are some foods locavores make exceptions for; coffee, teas and spices for example. Still, many will try to buy from local coffee roasters and/or spice importers.
As growing numbers of North Country consumers demand better-tasting food with less risk, small-scale sustainable farming operations have been “cropping up” across the region. At the same time, the number and popularity of farmers markets in our neck of the woods has doubled and redoubled over the past 10 years.
Whether you’re an omnivore, a carnivore, an herbivore or a locavore, you can benefit greatly by shopping at farmers markets. For starters, you’ll be able to select some of the freshest and the best-tasting local produce that money can buy. In recent weeks, area markets have offered asparagus, rhubarb, young greens, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, bedding plants, grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, baked goods, cheese curd and even artisan-made body-care products.
Early strawberries and peas will be available soon followed by beans, beets, berries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chard, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and the list goes on.
Shopping at your local farmers market allows you to visit growers, ask questions and get closer to the sources of food. It’s fun to talk to the folks who grow it, and producers appreciate feedback from their customers.
By shopping at farmers markets, you help support the preservation of agricultural land and the knowledge of our agricultural heritage for future generations. And you help strengthen our rural economy, too.
Besides, locally grown and prepared foods taste better and are more nutritious than fruits and vegetables that are picked before they’re ripe and transported across the continent or halfway around the world.
If you’re looking for ways to shop local, eat fresh, stretch your food dollars and support local sustainable agriculture, look no further than your local farmers market. Everybody wins.
Richard L. Gast, Extension program educator II, Horticulture, Natural Resources, Energy; agriculture programs assistant, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, 355 West Main St., Suite 150, Malone, 12953. Call 483-7403, fax 483-6214, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
REGIONAL FARMERS MARKETS
Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Hollywood Inn Restaurant Lawn, 4939 State Route 374. Open June 21 through Sept. 6. Market Manager: Donnie Jackson 293-7487. Email: email@example.com.
Fridays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Behind Adirondack Center Museum, 7590 Court St. Open now through Oct. 10. Market Manager: Gina Agoney, 293-7877 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturdays: 10:00-2:00 Intersection of Routes. 28 and 30. Open July 5 through Sept. 27. Market Manager: Brenda Valentine, 648-5636.
Sundays: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rt. 73 at Marcy Airfield. Open June 15 through Oct. 12. Market Manager: Dick Crawford 561-7167.
Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Behind the library in the park. Open June 11 through Aug. 27. Market Manager: Jane Desotelle Email: Underwoodherbs@gmail.com
Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Open June 25 through Oct. 8. Market Contact: Sue Mitchell 946-7690.
Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Corner of Routes 28 and 30 and South Hill Road across from post office. Open June 26 through Aug. 28. Manager: Ruth Howe 624-2162.
Wednesdays noon to 4:30 p.m. Rt. 11 at Malone Airport (across from Wal-Mart). Open June 11 thru Oct. 15. Market Manager: Victoria Ray, 772-1064. Email: email@example.com.
Fridays: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Paul Smith's College VIC, State Route 30, under the pavilion (follow the signs). Open June 27 to Sept. 12. Market Manager: Janet Burl, 483-6863. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
(farmers and crafters market)
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Farmers Market Pavilion, Durkee and Broad streets. Open now through Oct. 11 Saturdays; open June 25 through early September Wednesdays. Market Manager: Pat Parker, 493-6761.
Wednesdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. 4623 Main Street. Open June 25 to Aug. 27. Market Manager: Jackie Viestenz, 546-9855. Email: email@example.com.
Fridays, 3 to 7 p.m. Library across from the marina, 144 Lake St. Open June 20 to Sept. 26. Market Manager, Connie Cassevaugh, 297-3536.
Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pickets Corners just off Route 3 between high school and gas station. Market Contact: Joseph Orefice, 293-1380.
Tuesdays: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fusion Market, 111 River St. Open now through Sept. 30. Market Manager: Lou Lesniak, 521-0998. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saranac Lake Riverside Park. June 7 through Oct. 11. Market Contact: Sue Mitchell, 946-7690.
Mondays: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Town Hall parking lot. June 30 to Sept. 1. Market Contact: Sue Mitchell, 946-7690.
Thursdays, 2 to 5 p.m. The pavilion in Speculator. Open June 26 through Aug. 28. Market Manager: Anna Smith, 548-4521.
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Rt. 9N, SW of Liberty Monument. July 5 through Oct. 11. Market Manager: June Curtis, 585-6619.
Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wild Center, 45 Museum Drive, under tent. Market Manager, Ellen Beberman, 637-6653. Open Now thru Sept. 18. Email: email@example.com.
Thursdays, 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Rt. 22 south of Champlain National Bank. Open June 19 to Sept. 4. Market Manager, Linda Therrien, 963-4383. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org