Farmers Market offers more than food
Kevin Klein of Tahoe City prefers to buy locally grown and locally sold organic products, but says that the local shopping issue is not cut-and-dried.
“As I learn more, I realize it’s not as simple as just buying local,” Klein said.
While buying products grown and sold in Truckee-Tahoe and in the foothills keeps dollars circulating within the community and often uses fewer resources like fuel, Klein has read recent reports saying otherwise.
“It’s more complicated than just being local. The seasonality is really important,” said Klein. “… If you’re looking more globally it might be better to support other countries that are less economically sound. It’s an interesting issue. But it does keep the dollar here.”
Other proponents of local markets say that it is the farms and the open space that are protected when you shop locally.
“You’re supporting local agriculture and farmland. Most people want farmland, they don’t just want development. If we don’t support the local farmers that are existing by shopping locally or at farmers markets, they’ll be out of business and lose their farms,” said Foothill Farmers Markets field manager Mary Jane Power.
And while it benefits farmers to have their products travel fewer miles, shopping locally also benefits the buyer because of better quality, shoppers say.
“I fully support local venders, it keeps money in the community,” said Brand Little from Sacramento. “And a lot of time it’s just a better product.”
Little is a fish purveyor from Sacramento who fishes out of Bodega Bay and has a booth at the Tahoe City farmers market. He said buying seafood from the United States is particularly important because the country’s stringent fishing regulations are more environmentally sound.
Some may argue that better products cost more money, but farmers market advocates say that’s not always true.
“It’s actually cheaper to shop at the farmers market for the most part. Flowers are definitely cheaper. Strawberries are cheaper, seasonally. For example, this weekend at the Auburn market I was buying fresh apricots and cherries for two dollars a pound. I think that’s a great price,” Power said. “… Between the pesticides and the carbon use for transportation, those are the main reasons why to support local products,” Power said.
Despite the reports Klein has read questioning the benefits of local products, he emphasizes the importance of shopping locally ” to support area businesses, for health benefits, to reduce his environmental impact and for high quality.
“It’s fresher … this stuff was picked yesterday,” Klein said.
Even if business and environmental aspects don’t get people to shop locally, getting to know your farmer should, said Gary Romano with Sierra Valley Farms in Sierraville.
“There’s nothing more personal than where your food comes from,” Romano said.
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