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Thinking Local at the Farmer’s Market

food.JPGI just got back from the farmer's market this morning with a week's worth of organic produce and a lot on my mind. Usually, the market is a place for me to escape to on Sunday mornings, with my fabric shopping bags in tow, and reconnect with my values and my community. I love to chat with the local farmers about their produce and hear the wonderful stories about their farms and their families. I feel so happy as I peruse their wooden box stalls and take in the natural diversity in size and shape and color that indicate freshness and a lack of chemical pesticides. It feels so different from the waxy, uniform perfection found in conventional supermarkets and produced and packaged at enormous factory farms owned by multinational conglomerates. Here, I can feel close to the people who produce my food and feel good about knowing that my patronage can help to ensure their continued existence.

Today I heard that Priscilla the milk cow is sick but expected to recover soon, the creamer's wife invented a new seasoning for her feta cheese, and Bluebell, the buffalo rancher's favorite dog, is expecting puppies next month. I tasted no less than a dozen different types of apple while happily comparing flavor and consistency with the farmer's daughter. But I also heard about the difficulties the produce farmers had this past winter with the bizarre weather we've had this past season, yoyo-ing between hot and cold all winter long. There is no doubt that climate change, as it continues to mold our future with unsettling consequences for all of us, will have a real impact on local farmers.

Just a few weeks ago, farmers in Australia were warned by a climate change forum that they might have to make some changes to their agricultural mix and reform some of their farming practices because of climate change. In Malawi—a poverty stricken country in Africa that is regularly ravaged by drought and famine—climate change threatens what little agriculture the people do have. In Scotland, farmers are experiencing what some call "climate chaos" in the form of reduced snow cover, more flooding and increased risk of landslides. And in the Washington DC area, local farmers feel just as concerned and just as threatened.

As the saying goes, there has never been a better time to "buy local, think global". Find a farmer's market in your area and read a few tips before starting out. After all, do you really need a banana that has been flown in from Ecuador? Or will a locally grown apple taste just as good? I choose the apple.