National Food Day was celebrated on Thursday, October 24. 4,500 events around the country were organized to “shine a spotlight on local solutions to problems with (the) food system,” according to the campaign’s press release. Similarly, World Food Day also recently passed, On October 16.
A local food system immediately answers any questions about freshness, quality, and safety; questions that are receiving more attention as the answers become more difficult to find. According to some experts, consumers with questions like these are helping to drive the popularity of farmers’ markets throughout the region. The great advantage to shopping at the farmers’ market for those consumers is being face-to-face with the farmer. Farmers’ markets also represent a great way for the smallest farms to get produce to the consumer. However, local food systems hold solutions to worldwide problems.
“Small-scale farmers hold the key to cultivating and preserving biodiversity in agriculture. They grow indigenous fruits, vegetables, and legumes all over the world that not only make up diverse, healthy diets, but also provide much-needed nourishment for soils, (and) conserve limited water resources,” says Danielle Nierenberg, co-founder of Food Tank, the Food Think Tank.
As resources become scarce, and in the face of a changing climate, these are tools we have to continue to meet the challenges of getting all of us enough to eat. Farming can be a risky business, where otherwise savvy businessmen become subject to the whims of nature. All these same practices help mitigate risk for the individual farmer, and the world’s population.
Indigenous plants are better adapted to local conditions, so they are less likely to be damaged by drought, insects, or disease, and use less water or pesticides. Land degradation is a huge threat, costing up to 50% of crop yield, but the planting of legumes, which add nutrients to the soil, can conserve soil health. Healthy soils also are more efficient at bringing water and nutrients to the plant. Buying the leaves, fruits, and seeds of these healthy plants at the local market means better nutrition for anyone shopping there. Fresh food has better nutrient content, since nutrients can break down soon after harvest.
Local food systems hold more answers than you might think.