1. Locally grown food tastes better
Food grown in the Treasure Valley was probably picked within the last day or two and is crisp, sweet, and loaded with flavor. Produce flown or trucked in from California, Mexico, China or New Zealand is much older and possibly picked green and gassed to coax ripening. We are lucky in Boise to have a staggering diversity of fruit orchards, 3 season vegetable farms, grass-fed beef & lamb, range fed poultry, fresh dairy and more.
2. Local produce is better for you
Fresh produce loses nutrients quickly, sugars turn to starches, plant cells shrink, and produce loses its vitality. Buying local lets you get food that is at the peak of flavor and nutritional value. Our bodies naturally crave seasonal crops, requiring more hearty potatoes and cabbages when weather turns colder, and lighter salad greens and cucumbers when it is warmer. Shopping locally tunes you in with the seasons.
3. Local Food Preserves Genetic Diversity
The modern industrial food system favors varieties with thick skins that can survive packing and shipping, leaving little variety. Family farmers place value on different things, like choosing varieties that are uniquely suited to the Treasure Valley, often favoring heirloom varieties that have been passed down from generation to generation. Old varieties contain genetic material from hundreds of years of human selection; they may someday provide the genes needed to create varieties that will thrive in a changing climate.
4. Local food is Genetically Modified Organism Free
A June 2001 survey by ABC News showed that 93% of Americans want labels on gmo food - most so that they can avoid it. Biotech companies currently only license gmo fruits and vegetables to large commercial growers, which means that local farmers will guarantee a non-gmo source.
5. Local food supports local farming families
We need to support talented and hardworking farm families from disappearing, as each 5 year agricultural census shows they are - less than 2% of the population is currently a farming family. A typical farmer gets paid 10 cents of the retail food dollar, but buying directly from the producer or conscientious retailer keeps more $ in their pocket and their family on the land. A few of our local farm families include: City Gardens, Earthly Delights, Rice Family Farms, M&M Heath Family Farm, Sunset Butte Organics, Ballard Cheese, Rolling Stone Goat Cheese , Jack Kleeb-Turkey Ridge Farm, Morning Owl Farm, Clover Leaf Dairy, The Mushroom Ranch, Canyon Bounty Farm, Purple Sage, H&H, Gastons Bakery, Granny’s Farms, Hard Ball Farm Pork, Lava Lakes Lamb, Meadowlark Farm and numerous others.
6. Local food builds community
Chat with Becky Morgan at Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) or discuss heirloom wheat with Beth Rasgorshek at Canyon Bounty Farm - it’s a great connection for eater and grower. Knowing farmers gives you insight into the seasons, the weather, and the accessible miracle of raising food. Go to www.treasurevalleyfoodcoaltion.org for a complete listing of local farmers.
7. Local food preserves open space
When more people put their dollars into the pockets of farmers and show that their work is valuable, farmland becomes less likely to be developed. We face enormous pressures in the Treasure Valley with a high migration rate, putting our area at particular risk.
8. Local Food benefits wildlife
The habitat of a farm - the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings - is the perfect environment for many beloved species of wildlife, including bluebirds, herons, bats, rabbits, and eagles.
9. Local food supports a clean environment
If recent air quality alerts are any indication, land-use in our area may not always be in our collective best interest. A family farm however, is a place where resources like fertile soil, clean water and pollution free air are valued. According to some estimates, farmers who practice conservation tillage can sequester 12-14 % of the carbon emitted by vehicles and industry.
10. Local food is about the future
By supporting Treasure Valley farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in our community tomorrow, and that future generations will enjoy all the jerusalem artichokes, heirloom potatoes, goat cheese, kale, eggs, strawberries, peaches, pasture raised poultry, grass fed dairy & beef and more that this region has to offer.
Think Local First
*List courtesy of Dave Krick, owner of Red Feather and Bittercreek restaurants