Buying and eating products that are locally grown can oftentimes feel like much harder work than simply going to the grocery store and quickly picking out whatever it is we need from the plethora of options lining the shelves. The introduction of new agricultural technologies and faster transportation has encouraged us to shop here instead of locally, minimizing support for the local economy, discouraging the enjoyment of local products, and erasing the presence of seasons in grocery stores. While there is a level of convenience that makes this desirable, there are numerous benefits to shopping from our local farmers in Beaufort County that would make it well worth our time to do so. With over 100 farms in Beaufort County, there are plenty of growers and producers to offer fresh products for us to enjoy.
Eating locally is better for the environment than consuming the products on grocery store shelves, because local food items came from right where you are. Much of the food in grocery stores must travel many miles to get to our plates, and such extensive transportation is made possible by greenhouse gas emissions. By eating locally, we can minimize our carbon footprint.
Since food in grocery and convenience stores must also travel so many miles, these items must also oftentimes be processed so that they don’t spoil during transportation, which often introduces unhealthy ingredients. Produce must be picked before it is ripe so that it doesn’t spoil before reaching the shelf, and this prevents the fruits and vegetables from reaching their maximum potential of nutritive value. It also allows us to appreciate the effects of seasonal weather on our diets – something commercialized agriculture and grocery stores have all but taken away. It allows us to enjoy and appreciate fruits and vegetables in season during the summer, like strawberries and tomatoes, and more hearty vegetables like spinach and greens in the winter months.
Purchasing food from local growers and producers also allows us to promote the local economy in Beaufort County and surrounding areas. By buying products directly from farmers here, we can support them and their families, instead of supporting large corporations in grocery stores. This allows for the local economy to grow and gives us the opportunity to get to know the hands that are responsible for growing the food on our plates.
There are lots of ways for us to eat locally and support our local growers here in Beaufort County. The Harbor District Market has lots of vendors that are local growers, producers, and artisans. There are also restaurants, called farm-to-table restaurants, here in Washington that use fresh produce, such as The Hackney (whose chef you will regularly see shopping at the Market), so that its customers can enjoy local produce. These restaurants and farmers markets like the Harbor District Market are great ways to eat locally, enjoy delicious foods, and support our local community!