It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Wait, isn’t that a line from a Christmas song? Well, yes. But, when it comes to living a healthy life, what time of year could be better than right now? Temperatures are warming up and farmers markets are opening, making it more desirable to get outside to exercise and more convenient to purchase healthy local foods.
It is also the perfect time to tune into what is going on in our communities and connect with farmers who grow food nearby. Farmers are constantly affected by the weather and environmental concerns that many of us take for granted. Extremes in temperature (whether too hot or too cold), moisture (whether too dry or too wet), and other abnormal conditions can adversely affect crops and therefore farmers’ livelihood. With grocery stores as the mediators, we often don’t notice how these conditions affect our food. We might notice the abnormal number of snow days and unusually cold temperatures, but we do not always think about how farmers might be affected.
For example, the strawberry crops in North Carolina have been affected by shifts in climatic conditions this year. According to the North Carolina Strawberry Association, the berries are ripening all at once this season, rather than gradually over a period of time. Many are concerned that excess may go to waste if there is not enough demand between now and the end of May, so they are raising awareness through the “Short and Sweet Strawberry Share 2014.” This could be a great opportunity to go pick your own with your family or a church group and get to know a local farmer! Check with your local strawberry farm for more details.
Opportunities abound to be involved with local food. From websites to organizations to apps, resources are available to make it convenient to find local food. Local Harvest, Farmstand, and the USDA’s Directory are just a few of them. Buying locally is one of the best ways to care for the environment and your neighbors through our food choices. Whether you choose to get involved with a CSA, visit your local farmers market, or go pick your own food at a local farm, ‘tis the season to make local food a priority.