There are so many reasons to buy local, so many reasons to buy organic food. Going beyond the fact that we love supporting our neighbors, working with local farms, and eating deliciously fresh produce, there’s an even more important reason behind it. What you might not know about buying local, organically grown produce is that you are actively participating in a system that could save the world.
In our Healthy Living produce departments we sell mostly organic produce, sourced from local farmers as much as possible. What’s more, is that when we say local, we mean farmers that we buy from directly, or in a few cases, from a handful of distributors that work directly with farmers and producers in our area. As one guest put it, “it’s the freshest produce that I have found outside of a farmer’s market,” and we’re very proud of that reputation.
Supporting our local community is a major reason to operate this way. The end result of doing so that is not as easy to measure, is that we are helping to grow food systems that nurture something very important, that you might not even be aware needs our help.
It’s the soil. Healthy soil breathes in carbon dioxide and breathes out oxygen, just like plants do. In fact, soil can do an even better job of using carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than plants can. Why is that important? Because we are putting too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and it’s changing our climate. One way to put the brakes on climate change, and even reverse it, is to support soil stewardship in addition to cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
When you grow a crop, the plants use certain parts of the soil up more than other parts. Now, imagine soil as a set of crayons, where every part of the soil is a different color. If you draw a picture only using one color over and over again, eventually you are going to run out of that color.
This is what happens in a conventional farming situation without crop rotation, and when you are out of a nutrient, you have two choices: to buy the color you need and add it to the crayon set, or to get a whole new set of crayons. Conventional farming often relies on putting the same nutrients into the soil every year to get crops the nutrients they need to produce. Eventually though, the soil is going to have had enough, and
And guess what? It takes a long time to build soil. When it erodes or is worn out, it can be gone, and take generations to build again, so moving on to new soil all the time is eventually going to be like expecting to move planets when we’re all done with this one (yikes!)
In organic farming systems, there are regulations that require crop rotation and other forms of healthy soil management, because the goal is to constantly add to the soil as a whole, instead of wearing the soil out. By supporting local organic farms, you are prioritizing soil health (because the farmers do!), and you can make a positive impact on the environment.