Jacqui Zimmerman, RD, LDN | 11.11.12
Lancaster County is a place well-known for its farmland. But, with the convenience and variety available in today’s grocery stores it can be easy to overlook the farm stand in favor of the grocery store chain where you do the bulk of your shopping.
Buying locally grown produce has its perks; here are just a few of the reasons to support your local farmer:
1) Better taste! Fresh foods often have better flavor and color than produce that was picked within the last few hours. Any chef will tell you that fresh ingredients taste best in any recipe!
2) More nutrients! Fresh fruits and vegetables begin to lose nutrients soon after harvesting. Produce you buy locally was likely picked within the past day or two. You have no way of knowing how long ago produce from the grocery store was harvested, how long it spent in transport, and how long it sat on the shelf.
3) You can “know your farmer.” If you are concerned about genetically modified crops or pesticides, you may be better off buying locally where you are able to ask the grower about their use of chemicals and genetically modified seeds.
4) Support local families. Buying locally grown produce is just another way to “help your neighbor.” Plus, it may help to boost the local economy.
5) Help the environment: There are numerous benefits to the environment when food is grown locally. Locally grown food doesn’t have as much of a distance to travel from farm to table, meaning less environmental pollution.
Find the fresh produce you are looking for by visiting the Buy Fresh Buy Local website at www.buylocalpa.org/lancaster.
In addition to finding local sources for buying products you can also request a guide that will tell you what’s in season. Some farms sell Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. When you join a CSA, you pay up front for your produce for the season and in turn get to pick up a box of freshly picked fruits and/or vegetables for the entire growing season, usually from about May through late October.
The Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition, in partnership with Lancaster General Health, is a coalition working to increase the number of individuals in Lancaster County maintaining a healthy weight. The coalition is interested in increasing the number of individuals that have access to healthy, local affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. Currently the coalition has partnered with Buy Fresh Buy Local to join forces to bring Community Shared Agriculture to the workplace. Stay tuned for more information at www.lightenuplancaster.org.
Jacqui Zimmerman, RD, LDN
Jacqui Zimmerman, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian at Lancaster General Health’s Wellness Center. She has been instrumental in the development of a series of three healthy cookbooks, a variety of cooking demonstrations, healthy shopping tours, and numerous presentations for a range of audiences. She is actively involved in the Education and Schools Action Team of the Lighten Up Lancaster County Coalition. Her experience includes working with people of all ages, from kids and teens to the elderly.
Jacqui's blog, "From Jacqui's Kitchen," appears regularly on the Lancaster General Health website.
Visit the Health Toolkit for healthy recipes to try.
Explore an interactive map of Central PA farmers markets, and find one near you!