You’d think that big industrial farms would produce a wide variety of interesting fruits and vegetables, right? It seems like a pretty reasonable expectation, given these large companies have an abundance of resources. In fact, the opposite is true!
Large industrial farms ship incredibly high quantities of food, most of which has to travel hundreds or thousands of miles and endure a long supply chain before it reaches its final destination.
This severely limits what industrial farms are able to produce. In order to fill their large & distributed orders, these companies need to grow hardy, high-yielding crops that can withstand heavy duty harvesting equipment and long-distance travel.
Local farmers are not limited by the same constraints as large industrial farms. These smaller farms can grow a wider variety of crops, which offer a wider range of nutrients. And since the food doesn’t travel long distances, most of those nutrients are still intact by the time the fruit and veggies reach your plate.
More variety means more nutrients
Because of this heavy constraint, industrial farmers tend to focus on just a single crop or a small handful of popular hybrid varieties such as red delicious apples, iceberg lettuce or russet potatoes.
This limited variety doesn’t just limit a consumer’s choice at the market; it also limits the variety of vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients we can enjoy.
The good news is that smaller farms (which typically distribute their produce locally) are not restricted by distance and tend to use less aggressive harvesting methods. Local farmers enjoy significantly more options regarding what they can grow and can choose their crops based on flavor, nutritional value and consumer appeal.
For this reason, you will find a wider variety of fruits and vegetables at your local farmer’s market or conscious supermarket than you typically would at the larger food store chains. Heirloom tomatoes, purple carrots and interesting varieties of peaches and apples are just the tip of the iceberg (lettuce)!
Buy Local Foods
You can find locally sourced foods at your farmer’s market or by ordering a CSA box, which brings the farmers to you.
Health food markets and smaller grocers often source their foods from local farms as well. They typically market this benefit when they do, so you will usually see the food’s origin boldly displayed on the produce bins.
Demand for local food is increasing. If you don’t find locally sourced foods in your neighborhood food store or chain supermarket, request it. You’re probably not the only one asking and eventually they’ll have to listen!