This is National Farmers Market week, and markets near you are probably ready to brim full of fruits and vegetables that local farmers will harvest through the fall. Farmers Markets can be a lot of fun to visit—you might even discover a fruit or vegetable variety that you didn’t even know existed. But there are also health, environmental and community benefits that come from buying and eating fresh, local produce.
Local produce is often healthier than produce from far away. That’s because, once produce is picked, it begins losing nutrients. Produce that’s transported from far away loses valuable health benefits while it spends days in transit. If you buy produce grown close by, it’s more likely to have been picked very recently. Cutting back on transit time also allows farmers to pick their fruit at its peak ripeness, when it has the most nutrients.
Reducing the transit time also helps the environment, because it takes far less fuel to transport the produce to market.
Buying local also helps your town or region. Supporting small farmers means supporting local business. These nearby farmers can invest the money back into your community.
Sodexo has long been a big proponent of local food producers. We put our money where your mouth is by buying food from local producers whenever we can. In fact, we recently found that in the state of Vermont alone, we added $3.22 million to the state’s economy in a single year through our Vermont First program.
In Vermont, Sodexo provides dining services for ten campuses, three corporate accounts, and two healthcare accounts. When we launched Vermont First in 2014 with the support of state lawmakers and officials, we committed to purchasing more food locally. Today, we’re purchasing 64 percent of our milk locally as well as 46 percent of yogurt and 42 percent of apples. Other local purchases include bacon, potatoes, tofu, and, of course, maple syrup.
We’ve since expanded the program to Maine, our Maine Course program, which includes partnering with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) to purchase 100% responsibly harvested whitefish from the Gulf of Maine by 2020.
If you’re inspired to buy some local produce, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has a directory of farmers markets across the country. Just put in your zip code to find a market near you.
Is local sourcing important to you? Tell us why or why not in the comments.
Steve Cox leads Public Relations for Sodexo North America with $9B in annual revenue, 125,000 employees, 9,000 operating sites and 15 million consumers served daily. Sodexo is committed to improving performance and enhancing quality of life for the individuals, organizations and communities we serve.