Vermont has a wide variety of farms. While known for our dairy production,
there also many farms that raise fruits and vegetables, flowers and herbs,
and animal products of all kinds. Our farmers are dedicated to stewardship
and committed to quality. And while they love what they do, they aren't
doing it for entertainment. They need to make a living. Consumers that
value fresh food and a working landscape should support local farmers by
buying their products. Here are ten reasons why.
1) Locally grown food tastes and looks better. The crops are picked
at their peak, and farmstead products like cheeses and are hand-crafted
for best flavor. Livestock products are processed in nearby facilities
and typically the farmer has direct relationship with processors, oversijng
quality - unlike animals processed in large industrial facilities.
2) Local food is better for you. The shorter the time between the farm
and your table, the less likely it is that nutrients will be lost from
fresh food. Food imported from far away is older and has traveled on trucks
or planes, and sat in warehouses before it gets to you.
3) Local food preserves genetic diversity. In the modern agricultural
system, plant varieties are chosen for their ability to ripen uniformly,
withstand harvesting, survive packing and last a long time on the shelf,
so there is limited genetic diversity in large-scale production. Smaller
local farms, in contrast, often grow many different varieties of crops
to provide a long harvest season, an array of colors, and the best flavors.
Livestock diversity is also higher where there are many small farms rather
than few large farms.
4) Local food is safe. There's a unique kind of assurance that comes
from looking a farmer in the eye at farmers' market or driving by the fields
where your food comes from. Local farmers aren't anonymous and they take
their responsibility to the consumer seriously.
5) Local food supports local families. The wholesale prices that farmers
get for their products are low, often near the cost of production. Local
farmers who sell direct to consumers cut out the middleman and get full
retail price for their food - which helps farm families stay on the land.
6) Local food builds community. When you buy direct from a farmer, you're
engaging in a time-honored connection between eater and grower. Knowing
farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. In
many cases, it gives you access to a place where your children and grandchildren
can go to learn about nature and agriculture.
7) Local food preserves open space. When farmers get paid more for their
products by marketing locally, they're less likely to sell farmland for
development. When you buy locally grown food, you're doing something proactive
to preserve our working landscape. That landscape is an essential ingredient
to other economic activity in the state, such as tourism and recreation.
8) Local food keeps taxes down. According to several studies by
the American Farmland Trust, farms contribute more in taxes than they require
in services, whereas most development contributes less in taxes than the
cost of required services. Cows don’t go to school, tomatoes don’t dial
9) Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms
provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources,
and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a patchwork
of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for
wildlife in our communities.
10) Local food is an investment in the future. By supporting local farmers
today, you are helping to ensure that there will be farms in your community
tomorrow. That is a matter of importance for food security, especially
in light of an uncertain energy future and our current reliance on fossil
fuels to produce, package, distribute and store food.