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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Does Buying Local Matter?

Food Security & Locally Grown Food:
Does Buying Local Matter?

“Buying local” is something we hear a lot about these days. But does it matter? Our grocery stores are loaded with food from all over the world, so why should we care about eating locally grown food?

Here are some reasons.

Buying locally grown food is good for you right away.

·    Better Nutrition. Food that’s eaten soon after picking has the most nutrition. Some foods are hardy, like apples and oranges, and don’t suffer much nutrient loss over time. But others, like broccoli, green beans, salad greens, peaches, apricots and tomatoes, lose some of their nutrition when they travel long distances to reach your plate.

·    Picked when ripe. Food that comes from far away is often picked before it’s ripe because it travels better. This means it has less nutrition because ripening adds nutrition to foods.

·    Tastes Better. Some people swear that local food tastes better. It’s hard to argue when you compare the taste of a local strawberry to an imported one. There are at least two reasons why local produce may taste better:
1.      Because it’s picked when it’s ripe, and
2.      Because it’s grown for taste.

Fruits and vegetables grown to be shipped are often selected because they transport well, not because they are the best tasting. Local farmer's don't have to worry about growing vegetables that can stand travelling thousands of kilometres. They can choose to grow the kinds of fruits and vegetables that taste best. 

Photo Credit: Burnaby Village Museum

     Fewer Pesticides. Local farms grow a variety of produce, which is a practice that helps reduce pests. This means farmers are likely to need fewer pesticides, even if they don’t grow organically. Bonus: If you buy at the farmers’ market and local market gardens, you can ask the farmer about how they grow their food.

·     Kids Learn.  When you take children to a farmers’ market or local farm, they learn that food is grown by real people on land near where they live. This can help them value farmland and farmers. Kids can also talk to the farmers and ask them questions, something most kids enjoy.

Buying locally grown food is good for the local economy.

·    Supports the community. Money spent in your community tends to stay in the community, which supports other local businesses and creates employment.

·    Supports farmers. When you buy at a farmers’ market or a market garden, you know the money you spend will help a local family keep farming. And that keeps farmland from urban or industrial development.

Buying locally grown food is good for our future.

·    Supports food security. Climate change is already disrupting global food supplies. Remember the drought and flooding in California? If we want to eat, and we want our children and grandchildren to have food, we need the availability of locally grown food. 

·    Creates fewer greenhouse gases. Most local farms are small and plant a variety of crops. Most huge farms produce only a few crops, or even just one – like acres and acres and acres of lettuce or corn. Monocrop farming depletes the soil, which then needs synthetic fertilizer. Because it takes fossil fuels to produce these fertilizers, more greenhouse gas is created.

     Monocrop farming also means that pests can really munch down on their favouritefoods without running into a barrier of plants they don’t eat. Lots of pests means lots of pesticides. And like producing fertilizers, making pesticides creates greenhouse gases.

·    It’s good for pollinators. Small farms produce a variety of crops. This biodiversity supports pollinators, essential to making our food.

There are other reasons to buy locally grown food, such as the pleasant experience of strolling through the market gardens and farmers’ markets. But the key, long-term reason is to make sure we are have farmland, farmers, and food locally available in a time of climate change and growing uncertainty. Buying locally grown food now is good for our future.

Photo Credit: Artisan Markets

Article Written By: Burnaby Food First Member Joyce Cameron

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Indigenous Food Systems Walking Tour!

Indigenous Food Systems Walking Tour
Tuesday, June 19 / 6:30 – 8:00pm
Central Park, Burnaby
Meeting Spot: Northeast Sign Kiosk across from the entrance to the Patterson Skytrain Station
Celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in Burnaby! Join Indigenous Herbalist and Educator Lori Snyder to discover wild foods and medicines in your own backyard!

Free. Please register by emailing burnabyfoodfirst@gmail.com. Rain or shine. Please wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Local Food in Burnaby – Farm Fresh, Picked Daily

Local Food in Burnaby – Farm Fresh, Picked Daily

Fresh vegetables that are picked the day you buy them? Hallelujah! Why eat lettuce and potatoes from 1,500 km away when you can eat them fresh from local farms?

The more we buy local food, the more we support local farmers, and that ensures we will have an ongoing food supply close to home. Because climate change may mean that imported food is not available in the future, it’s important that we have local food sources. Plus, shorter shipping distances cut down on greenhouse gasses.

And when you can talk to the farmers and see herbs and vegetables growing in the rich fields, shopping changes from a chore to a pleasure. In Burnaby, we can buy local produce direct from two market gardens that are open 7 days a week and at a third farm that is open on summer weekends.

The Sun Tai Sang Farm at 4886 Marine Drive has been a family run business since 1935. From May to the end of September, you can buy fresh-picked produce grown in the fields behind the store. The store is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sun Tai Sang Farm also carries produce from the Fraser Valley and fruit and tomatoes from the Okanagan. They bring in some fruit, such as oranges and bananas, but they promote BC grown produce as much as possible. The farm’s homegrown items are identified with a ‘Sun Tai Song’ sticker above the bin.

Sun Tai Sang also offers a wide variety of bedding plants for your flower garden and seedlings for your veggie patch. Take a look behind the retail building and you can see the covered gardens with people growing rows of vegetables in the dark, rich soil.

If you want to order produce in bulk for canning, freezing or drying, give them a call at 604-434-3663.

Hop On Farms at 5624 Marine Drive is open from 9:30 to 6:00 pm every day of the week. The farm has been family run since 1953. Come by for the fresh produce they grow, like sweet carrots, dark green chard, and herbs. They also sell produce from the Fraser Valley and Okanagan.

Treat yourself to a walk along the field to the creek, smell the rows of mint and see the lush fields of growing veggies. You can wander through the covered tables of bedding plants and vegetable seedlings and select some for your own garden.

You can order in bulk by calling ahead. Cases of basil, anyone, for your own fabulous pesto?

Hop On Farms
Watch for Common Ground Community Farm’s ‘Open’ sign during the summer months. The farm is located at 7354 North Fraser Way. Common Grounds farmers grow vegetables from their own seeds. The farm relies on crop rotation and beneficial insects – no pesticides or herbicides.

Common Grounds is a great place to come to get your veggies and show the kids what a small farm is like. The produce stall will usually be open on weekends. Check the website for dates and times.

Article Written By: Burnaby Food First Member Joyce Cameron