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Why Buy Local - and Where, Exactly, Is That?!?

I've done some reading, thinking and writing about defining unprocessed foods. But I am surprised to find that I haven't explored what it means to be local. At least not on my blog. I guess I've just defined it for myself and embraced that. But delving into what other people think it means was eye-opening before Thanksgiving. So, here goes...

To me, if I have met the farmer or producer somehow, at the multitude of farmers' markets we have locally, then they are local enough. I know that there are some nut-growers who come from the central valley. I love the hazelnuts from Tony Inzana out of Hughson, though I still don't know where that is exactly; he comes to the Marina farmers' market on Sunday morning, so it can't be too, too far, right?

If I have been to the farm - our CSA farm this year was Fogline Farm in Soquel - then they are definitely local.

I remember reading somewhere that 100 miles is good gauge of 'local.' But Whole Foods says they usually use state boundaries, though you can ask specifically for 'central coast of California' or 'Bay Area' foods. I was pleasantly surprised to see a local farm from Watsonville on the tags for my fresh herbs when I was at Whole Foods last night. Maristone. One of my favorite yogurts is from Sonoma. That's just outside the 100-mile radius. Oh, well. It's the same state.

I found this on the kcet website: Eat Local This Thanksgiving.


Now that I rambled about what is local. Why buy local?! There are lots of reasons to buy locally grown, raised and produced food and other products. Here are a few of my favorites.

Supporting local farmers connects consumers to producers. Directly. It also helps keep us connected to the growing seasons and we can eat what's in season at the peak of its freshness.

Buying food from local producers reduces the environmental impact and cost of transporting the goods. Fewer miles traveled means less pollution for our planet.

And, perhaps the most important part of buying local: Small, local farms are an invaluable part of a community’s character. And most of the money spent on local production stays in the community, helping to boost the local economy. I love that I can say to the boys "This is ____________ grown by ____________. You met him. Remember?" And I love that we say that a lot.

Win, win, win! Do you buy local? And what's your definition?

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