Support local farmers

Although I’ve never worked on a farm, I have picked fruit and vegetables for my own use over the years and I manage a farmers’ market, so have become friends with many farmers. I agree with you that everyone should work on a farm at some point in their lives. Or, at the very least, bring your children to a farm and pick something so that they can have a better appreciation of the work involved in providing our food, and they’ll know that food doesn't just come from the supermarket.

We are fortunate in our country to spend a smaller percentage of our income on food in comparison to many other countries. Yet, many people complain about the cost. What are you really complaining about? Is it your total in the grocery store? The potato chips that are $5 a pound? The window cleaner that is in your order? Or, is it the cost of the food that is not processed that you have to do something with?

Once in awhile, when I am praising the products that our vendors bring to our market in Forest Park (Tuesdays, 12:30-6, May through October),someone will say that it is too expensive. Most often it is someone who is old. (I’m old, but not OLD). I always say that they are confusing price and value. What you purchase at a farmers’ market or roadside stand will last much longer than most of the produce you buy in a grocery store. It may have been picked the very day you buy it.

Have you ever had fresh spinach last almost three weeks without spoiling? Farmers’ market spinach lasts that long.

Small production farming is more expensive than large production farming. We do not have large production farming in the Pioneer Valley. Even our largest farms don’t compare to the huge farms in the Midwest or California. The labor involved is beyond the comprehension of most of us.

Farmers deserve to earn a good wage for their work. In addition to farmers earning a good wage, the money we spend for local products is spent locally — the REAL trickle down effect.

Another benefit to purchasing locally grown/raised products is that you will find items that you may not find in a grocery store because they are too delicate to make the long trip from out of the region.

Have you ever had a watermelon radish? A yellow watermelon? A Japanese turnip? A purple carrot? Those are at our farmers’ market and they are fabulous!

Help yourself, help the local economy, help our local farmers who are willing to do the hard work, day in, day out, in the heat, the rain, the chill. Eat more seasonally. You will appreciate the flavor of your food more.

Belle Rita Novak

Springfield

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