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Support your local farmer

When shopping for groceries, many of us are quick to turn to the closest chain store for food items. We often forget to uphold the principle of “Bal Tash’chit” which urges us not to waste. This value is central to Judaism and has the potential to stave off further environmental damage. Although we may not see the potential for waste in purchases from supermarkets, oftentimes these stores harm the national environment and detract from local business. While many boast convenience, they often fail to provide locally sourced meats, grains, dairy products, and produce. Due to their dependence on agri-business giants, they rarely provide fresh, seasonal items. Thus, shoppers often miss out on the natural variety and flavor found in local food.  Try branching out and exploring the different ways to incorporate local, seasonal food into your diet.

If you need a little convincing, here are some reasons to find and support local growers and farmers markets:

  1. The lie of convenience. Although major grocery stores claim to save the consumer money and time, the crowds and lines often add unnecessary time and stress. In addition, their limited selection fails to represent the wealth of variety and experimentation available in the kitchen. Rather than simply stocking up on groceries at a chain store, consider exploring farms and farmers markets selling local items. From eggs and honey to meat and potatoes, you can find all of the essentials for your cooking needs.
  2. Fresh and Tasty. Food purchased from local farmers markets is often the freshet and tastiest available. Rather than buying from a grower in a different state and shipping the food to the store, farmer’s markets get their products from the source. This process also cuts down on unnecessary waste and fuel emissions. In shopping at a local farmers market, you familiarize yourself with the cycles of nature in your region. This may require some adaptation in your home cooking, but also provides exciting ways to try new things.
  3. Healthier Soil. The growth and purchasing of local crops sustains variety in agriculture. In purchasing food from community farms, consumers reduce reliance on crop monocultures, encouraging rich biodiversity in plant life. This then fuels a complex web of biological activity within the soil. The soil acts as a natural guard against greenhouse gas emissions and enhances plant health.
  4. Support Local Families. Wholesale prices that farmers get for their products are low, sometimes equivalent to the cost of production. When local producers sell directly to the consumer, they get full retail price which helps them to sustain their business on the land.
  5. Invest in the Future. Supporting local farmers ensures the existence of community farms in the future. Due to the uncertainty of our future with energy and climate change, the availability of locally grown food becomes all the more important.
  6. Culinary Inspiration. The unique produce at local markets may not fit into your traditional recipes. However, the rich variety found at farmers markets will introduce you to diverse flavors that will inevitably transform your cooking. Look for new recipes to incorporate fresh, local food.
  7. Protect the environment. Food in the U.S. travels 1,500 miles on average to make it to your plate. This shipping process creates pollution, uses excessive natural resources, and creates trash with extra packaging. Major agricultural companies also contribute to land, air, and water pollution with toxic byproducts.  Cut down on waste and fossil fuel emissions by purchasing directly from farmers.

This winter, visit your community market and explore the rich variety in your local ecosystem. Your business bolsters the local economy and contributes to a thriving ecosystem. Here are some St. Louis markets to visit in the Winter Months:

  • Schlafly Winter Farmers Market: Schlafly Bottleworks

7260 Southwest Ave, St. Louis, MO 63143

  • Tower Grove Farmers Market: City Garden Montessori School
    1618 Tower Grove Ave, 63110
  • Ferguson Farmers Market: St. Stephens Church
    33N Clay, Ferguson MO 63135
  • Herman’s Farm: 3663 MO-94, St. Charles, MO 63301
  • The Fruit Stand: 14433 Manchester Rd, Ballwin MO, 63011
Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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