Three years ago, I was trying to decide where I was going to live next and one of the huge pros for moving to Rochester was the rich agricultural region in and around the Finger Lakes. I’ve been a foodie for years but my dedication for local produce goes beyond the freshness and flavor of seasonal produce.  It’s that, of course, but there’s so much more to the goodness of what it means to get your fruits and vegetables locally.

Good thing #1

Support for family farms. Just as you support local businesses, supporting local farms supports your community. It takes out the middleman, saving you money, and giving your money directly to the farmer. Knowing where your food comes from, knowing who grows your food, is grounding, almost spiritual. I was looking for shallots one week at the Rochester Public Market and the farmer I was talking to was telling me that they were late, that for some reason she couldn’t fathom, they didn’t come up. The next week, the same farmer had shallots. I remember looking at them and thinking, “I know what you were doing last week, you were still underground.” That knowledge, that feeling subtly changed the way I worked with them, personalized the way I approached cooking my meal and certainly enhanced its flavor.

Good thing #2

Reducing your carbon footprint. The shorter the distance, the smaller the carbon footprint. The amount of fossil fuel it takes to bring out of season and exotic fruits and vegetables to your grocery store is not negligible. Buy local and do your bit to help reduce climate change.

Good thing #3

Good things come to those who wait. Christmas comes but once a year as do many fruits and vegetables. The last couple years, I’ve been moving towards eating only seasonal produce and it’s been a revelation. My foodie self knew that the closer my meal is to its source, the more flavor and personality it has – by orders of magnitude. We’ve all suffered through cardboard tomatoes. But I wasn’t prepared for the sheer joy that comes from the arrival of something wonderful. Spring peas, fresh strawberries, baby asparagus all taste more fabulous for anticipating their arrival. Our culture’s trend toward providing everything all the time seems like it’s all about providing but in many instances, it actually detracts.

We are truly blessed to live in an area so rich with agricultural abundance and it’s not difficult to take advantage of it. Shop your local farmer’s market, subscribe to a CSA. Plan your meals around local produce and experience the joy it can bring.