After moving too far from the Seaport Farmer’s Market in Halifax I bought a share in Taproot Farms, a family farm that cultivates its land in the Annapolis Valley. They offer a year-long share program that anyone can buy into. You purchase a share to help sustain the farm and then every week they provide you with a variety of foods.
Buying food from a local organic farm offers delicious produce that is free of harmful chemicals and supports our local and global communities. Nova Scotia alone has over 30 farms offering locally grown organic produce. These members of the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) are proud to offer their foods and share their practices with us, the public.
In the documentary Bananas! director Fredrik Gertten exposes what large corporate food companies do to get a polished and beautiful piece of fruit. Gertten captured chemical pesticides raining down on workers who drag their bare feet through the muddy fields of banana trees. The film focuses on a lawsuit against Dole Food Co. who was charged with using a banned chemical pesticide that can leave men unable to become fathers. When grabbing a bunch of bananas or blueberries in the grocery store we may not realise what practices the company behind the fruit uses.
We are used to buying this highly polished produce in our grocery stores. Often we choose them over some not so pretty vegetables. The scars of these ‘ugly duckling’ vegetables can easily make us think that the food will not taste good. Because I get the food that Taproot Farms gives me I have to accept it even if it has a funny looking scar. After cooking some of these scarred vegetables I was surprised to find that they were divinely delicious. A little blemish is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, it can often be the guarantee of being chemical free.
Buying local and organic means you have access to tasty food but is it affordable? The answer is simply: yes. I get a fruit and vegetable share which costs me $22 per week with plenty of food left over to share with friends.
Not only is buying local food an affordable choice for you and your wallet but it also supports the economy. It is pretty clear how buying from a local farm supports our own economy here in Nova Scotia but how does it help the world? Maria Rodale, author and CEO of the largest independent publisher of health and wellness literature in the word, says in her book, Organic Manifesto, that “during times of drought and floods, organic farms consistently produce more than chemical farms.” Keeping food on the table keeps money in the bank for these organic farmers and this translates into adding security to that farm’s national economy.
Supporting local organic farms also supports biodiversity. According to ACORN, these farms have, on average, 30 per cent more species of fruits and vegetables than their chemical counterparts. This goes a long way to protecting biodiversity, which is important in keeping our planet healthy.
Protecting biodiversity and strengthening local and global economies are great reasons to buy local and organic. However, the main reason I support a local organic farm is that I know my farmer. If I am looking for a vacation or curious about how farming works I can go up to Taproot Farms and stay on their property for any period of time. I can meet the people who till the fields. I can shake the hands that pick my produce. By knowing my farmer I can be confident that they are dedicated to offering me the juiciest tomato and the heartiest sweet potato that they can.