LIVING LIVELY | By KATE ROBITELLO
As I took the photo featured in this article, I asked Lucia if she understood the article that I was writing. The agreement was that she would tell me two reasons that it’s so crucial for our community to support the local economy, and if she could, she would see her photo featured in my next article. Impressed by my soon-to-be stepdaughter’s knowledge, she informed me that we should support local farmers because they “make and grow healthy food” and “work hard to keep us healthy”.
Eat local for your health
Speaking to her point, the word “health” is relatively synonymous with local consumable goods, especially when it comes to Vermont. Statistically, we are one of the healthiest states in the nation, and it’s no surprise, with weekly farmers markets in an increasing number of towns each year, and many restaurants using and promoting foods purchased from local farmers, it’s nearly impossible not to end up eating a vitamin-packed, creatively crafted side dish of kale at your favorite local restaurant. Although many of the local farms are not able to obtain the “organic” label, which is quite pricey and time-consuming to get, they are in fact organic. Mineral-rich soil, farming integrity, and good ol’ VT “health-food snobbery” all take part in the creation of amazingly high-quality local food, particularly produce.
Better food for less
The general misconception is that local and organic goods cost more money, which is not necessarily true, especially if you are savvy about it. For example, I bought 5 bunches of kale, 5 bunches of cilantro, and 3 pounds of carrots from Yoder farm last weekend. The cost? Less than $30. If I had purchased that much produce from the grocery store, I would have easily spent well over $35 – and that’s for non-organic stuff. The secret is to shop around, buy in bulk, and create real relationships with the farmers you are buying from. Go visit the farm you buy from, better yet, spend a day on the farm and bring the family along-with. Not only will this generate a newfound appreciate for the food your family eats, but you may get a work-for-trade agreement out of it. Spend a day in the dirt on a beautifully peaceful farm in exchange for fresh produce? 110-percent worth it. Not to mention long-lasting memories with the kids.
The local economy
I often wonder if the “I Support Local” t-shirts are in fact made in a foreign country. This would be worth investigating, but I digress. Supporting local goes far beyond the trend of this fashion faux pas. Eating amazing food is fantastic for our singular selves, but the benefits of investing money into our local economy goes far beyond this, and continues to perpetuate beyond our conscious understanding. When we purchase local goods, the money stays within our local parameters. Imagine if we buy local, and then the person that we give that money to then buys local – better yet, we then teach our kids to buy local. The impact is huge. As convenient as it is to run to the big-box store to get what we need, the local jewels that are out there tend to lead to an entire experience versus a mere transaction, and create growth, jobs and opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise have existed.
Thus, buying local goes beyond an organic cotton (potentially not local) t-shirt trend. Our purchase decisions impact our lives, the lives of our local merchants and farmers, and dictate the mentality and economic actions of generations to come.
Kate Robitello is a plant based nutrition expert based at Rutland’s Pyramid Holistic Wellness Center. She’s a proponent of clean eats, abundant health, and living vibrantly.