Buying Local

Buying Local-1By Ryan C. Meyer

In this fast-paced world, time has become one of the most precious commodities. A day’s hours are few and its stresses many. To fit our tight schedules, speed and efficiency are favored while quality seems to be pushed aside. Massive industries meet our demands with cheap merchandise and fast food, but are we making the right demands?

Many of us want a quick meal so that we can move on to more enjoyable activities, but it would be healthier and even more efficient if we were to make the meal itself something we truly enjoy. Not everyone is a skilled cook, but one doesn’t have to have their own show on television or a collection of fine utensils to make something palatable. A dinner cooked with fresh ingredients and a light-hearted attitude is almost certainly going to be satisfying (and a pleasure to make as well as eat).

Farmers’ markets provide a place where anyone can obtain fresh, healthy ingredients directly from the people that grow them. While shopping for groceries at a supermarket is a time-consuming hassle, picking out goods at a farmers’ market can actually be pleasurable. One can feel the sun and breathe fresh air, rather than wander through a maze of aisles illuminated by fluorescent light. While no one can argue against the convenience of fast food, stepping through the doors of a McDonald’s is rarely followed by good feelings. The smell of grease is heavy in the air and you think about the next chance you will get to wash your hands each time you touch something. The hectic environment behind the counter only makes the other side look even more sluggish and your feet stick to the floor as you shuffle forward in line, just wanting to grab your order and escape. Good food doesn’t come from places like this.

Buying food from a farmer’s market helps support local growers who, in turn, support the community. They are individuals whose land can be viewed and appreciated, who spend money at other small businesses. Unlike the larger businesses that swallow up competition, leaving little (if any) options for shopping destinations, a farmer has a symbiotic relationship with his/her community. It will always be more fulfilling to give money to your neighbor than to feed it into a machine.

Having grown up on a farm, I know how important it is for people to believe in what you are doing. Farming is one of the most difficult jobs there is, but it is also very rewarding. One of farming’s most rewarding aspects is interacting with people that appreciate what you do. Whether that person is also a farmer or just someone who prefers fresh milk and produce and realizes the effort that it takes to bring those goods to them, the acknowledgement and empathy make arduous labor worthwhile. Any task is easier when it’s appreciated.

 

Despite the many advantages to farmers’ markets, it hasn’t always been easy to hear about and locate them. Modern technology has changed that, though, allowing us to search and find anything with the click of a mouse. Our own Northern Connection’s magazine, website (northernconnectionmag.com) and facebook page expedite the process by pointing out locations close to us. Another way of seeking locally grown food is through Giant Eagle Market District, which has many products that they buy from Pennsylvanian growers. While it may lack the atmosphere of an outdoor market, most of us are already familiar with these locations. It provides the familiarity and convenience of a larger chain, while still providing fresh groceries and helping local farmers.

In this fast-paced world, time has become one of the most precious commodities. A day’s hours are few and its stresses many. To fit our tight schedules, speed and efficiency are favored while quality seems to be pushed aside. Massive industries meet our demands with cheap merchandise and fast food, but are we making the right demands?

Many of us want a quick meal so that we can move on to more enjoyable activities, but it would be healthier and even more efficient if we were to make the meal itself something we truly enjoy. Not everyone is a skilled cook, but one doesn’t have to have their own show on television or a collection of fine utensils to make something palatable. A dinner cooked with fresh ingredients and a light-hearted attitude is almost certainly going to be satisfying (and a pleasure to make as well as eat).

Farmers’ markets provide a place where anyone can obtain fresh, healthy ingredients directly from the people that grow them. While shopping for groceries at a supermarket is a time-consuming hassle, picking out goods at a farmers’ market can actually be pleasurable. One can feel the sun and breathe fresh air, rather than wander through a maze of aisles illuminated by fluorescent light. While no one can argue against the convenience of fast food, stepping through the doors of a McDonald’s is rarely followed by good feelings. The smell of grease is heavy in the air and you think about the next chance you will get to wash your hands each time you touch something. The hectic environment behind the counter only makes the other side look even more sluggish and your feet stick to the floor as you shuffle forward in line, just wanting to grab your order and escape. Good food doesn’t come from places like this.

Buying food from a farmer’s market helps support local growers who, in turn, support the community. They are individuals whose land can be viewed and appreciated, who spend money at other small businesses. Unlike the larger businesses that swallow up competition, leaving little (if any) options for shopping destinations, a farmer has a symbiotic relationship with his/her community. It will always be more fulfilling to give money to your neighbor than to feed it into a machine.

Having grown up on a farm, I know how important it is for people to believe in what you are doing. Farming is one of the most difficult jobs there is, but it is also very rewarding. One of farming’s most rewarding aspects is interacting with people that appreciate what you do. Whether that person is also a farmer or just someone who prefers fresh milk and produce and realizes the effort that it takes to bring those goods to them, the acknowledgement and empathy make arduous labor worthwhile. Any task is easier when it’s appreciated.

Despite the many advantages to farmers’ markets, it hasn’t always been easy to hear about and locate them. Modern technology has changed that, though, allowing us to search and find anything with the click of a mouse. Our own Northern Connection’s magazine, website (northernconnectionmag.com) and facebook page expedite the process by pointing out locations close to us. Another way of seeking locally grown food is through Giant Eagle Market District, which has many products that they buy from Pennsylvanian growers. While it may lack the atmosphere of an outdoor market, most of us are already familiar with these locations. It provides the familiarity and convenience of a larger chain, while still providing fresh groceries and helping local farmers.