With the quickly passing signs of spring, we are headed full steam into summer. With summer comes lots of sun, and fresh air, and the opportunity for fresh fruits and vegetables. For some that means planting a large garden, for others it means visiting the local, pick-your-own farm for fresh strawberries and blueberries, and for others, it means visiting the local farmer’s market. Whatever your preference, you may fall into the definition for a term recently created and defined as a locavore. “Locavore” was the 2007 word of the year for the Oxford American Dictionary. Simply put, a locavore is someone who eats foods locally grown, raised, or caught. Locavores range from someone who grows their own tomatoes, to those who will not eat or purchase anything not grown or raised within a one hundred mile radius of their house. Why has this become a movement and now, even has its own name?
It is well known that most of the food you purchase in the grocery store has traveled thousands of miles before it reaches the store shelf. Many are committed to purchasing locally for this reason alone, striving to make a difference in the environment by reducing their “carbon footprint” – another term recently coined. Others simply recognize that food just tastes better if it’s fresh off the vine or plant. In order for food to be fresh and ripe for you to purchase from the grocery store, it needs to be picked very early, before it has a chance to ripen, so that it can travel several hundred or maybe thousands of miles. In some cases it will be sprayed with a ripening agent. Have you ever bought fruit at the store and before it ripened, it rotted instead? How frustrating!
When fruit and vegetables are picked before they are ripe, they lose nutritional value because they are not allowed to fully develop. Many of the nutritional benefits of fruits and vegetables come from the process of ripening on the vine or plant. If produce is picked too early, those nutritional elements will be lacking. The difference between a fresh-picked tomato, local strawberries or tree-ripened peaches to their store bought counterparts is very noticeable simply because they were not allowed to grow and develop the way the Lord intended.
I encourage you to seek out and purchase some of your food from local sources this summer. Don’t stop at just fruit and vegetables, though! Honey, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and meat can also be purchased through local farms, butchers, or even friends and neighbors!
I’ve listed several local farmer’s markets to help you get started. Not only is it a fun adventure to go the market or farm, but it’s a great opportunity to get to know your neighboring community. In many cases you will find that even though they are not labeled organic, their farming practices are. Perhaps you will also have an opportunity to witness to those that you meet!
Emmaus Farmer’s Market (235 Main Street, Emmaus, open on Sundays 10 am – 2 pm)
Macungie Farmer’s Market (50 Poplar Street, Macungie, open on Thursdays, 4 pm – 7 pm)
Upper Milford Farmer’s Market (corner of Rt. 29/100 and King’s Highway South, open on Saturdays, 9 am – 4 pm)
Kutztown Produce Auction (209 Oakhaven Road, Fleetwood, PA, open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, auction starting at 9 am – produce usually is auctioned first. You need to purchase in large bulk, but it’s great if you’re planning on splitting with friends or freezing and canning a lot of one item)
Burkholder’s Farm Market (630 Topton Road, Kutztown, PA, open Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 7 pm)
Allentown Farmer’s Market (17th and Chew Streets, Allentown, open on Thursdays 9 am – 8 pm, Fridays 8 am – 8 pm, Saturdays 8 am – 6 pm)
Bobwhite Acres – self-pick fruits and vegetables, farmer’s market (3879 East Mill Hill Rd, Coopersburg, PA)
Jersey Hollow Farm ( fresh, raw milk – 276 Quarry Rd, Kutztown, PA)
Barringer’s Brothers ( butcher – Rt. 212, Richlandtown, PA)
Deitrich’s Meats (660 Old Rt 22, Lenhartsville)