Food Prices and the Local Food Movement
It is summer and food prices are higher than ever. Wallets and budgets are strained or broken. American citizens are springing for new opportunities that are overlooked by many. Some citizens have found an answer in the local farmer’s market and at local farm stands.
In grocery stores, Americans have grown accustomed to a global palette of food from around the world available all year. The reality is that food is usually purchased from the lowest bidder and may not be the most nutritious or in the best condition when it arrives at the grocery. Some countries grow food that is sold in the market in unsanitary and squalid conditions, which accounts for some food recalls.
The rise of farmers’ markets is testament to a dramatic shift in American sensitivities. Consumers increasingly are searching for the flavors of fresh, vine-ripened foods grown on local farms instead of those trucked to supermarkets from faraway lands. Ordinary middle-income folks have decided they really care about where their food comes from.
Small farms are returning to the landscape to meet the demand. U.S. farmers normally receive about 22 cents of every dollar spent on food. The remaining 78 cents is devoted to packaging, labor, transportation, depreciation and marketing. One dollar spent locally generates more income for the local economy. Farmers make and keep more money and are rewarded for the extra work of bringing fresh food to market. The American business ethic is enriched and supported along with your health.
Fruits and vegetables shipped from distant states and countries can spend as many as 14 days in transit before they arrive in the supermarket. Most fruit and vegetable varieties sold in supermarkets are chosen for their ability to withstand industrial harvesting equipment and extended travel rather than taste. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually sold within a few days of being harvested. Produce that is picked and eaten at the height of ripeness has exceptional flavor. When handled properly, local food is packed with more nutrients than what you would buy in an average grocery store.
More Americans are joining the throngs of the health conscious, gourmet and anti-corporate to save money and buy higher quality and fresh food. Most conventional grocery stores have a 50 percent markup to cover overhead, huge corporate salaries and the costs that go into running a huge supermarket chain. If you can minimize that profit markup the cost of the food, people are able to save plenty of money and eat better in the process.
Get to know your local farmer and farmers’ market community. You’ll be glad you did.