Rural Matters: Time to Buy Local

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On Saturdays at the Del Ray Farmers Market there is always a long line at Smith Meadows Meats. Folks are buying eggs and meat that were raised in a healthy environment on a farm in Berryville, Virginia. Likewise, shoppers wait in lines at the produce, mushroom, cheese, bread goods, honey and herb vendors. There are now farmers markets in Del Ray, Old Town, Upper King Street and the West End of Alexandria. Alexandrians believe in buying locally.
Just down the street from the Del Ray Farmers Market is the shop Lets Meat on the Avenue. Proprietor Steve Gatward buys local whenever possible as does Jill Erber, owner of Cheesetique. Further down Mount Vernon Avenue is ACKC Chocolate where Eric Nelson features Rob Kingsburys locally made chocolates. Fireflies and La Strada are restaurants on Mount Vernon Avenue that make it a practice to buy local. These are just a few locations in Del Ray that carry locally made food items.
In the West End, Tempo Restaurant on Duke Street, which is owned by Wendy and Serge Albert, not only buys local but also supplies their restaurant from their own garden. All of these proprietors believe it makes good sense and good taste to buy locally.

Why buy local?
You will get exceptional taste and freshness; Food that is shipped long distances loses something in the process and shipped food, like strawberries, have to be chosen for their ability to withstand industrial harvesting equipment and extended travel, not taste. Food shipped from distant states and countries can spend as many as seven to 14 days in transit before they arrive at the supermarket. You also stay connected to the seasons. Fruits allowed to ripen on the tree longer taste better. You will find a large assortment of unique varieties of produce in the most flavorful choices throughout the season.
You will help your local economy: Local food purchases keep your dollars circulating in your community. The multiplier effect demonstrates that for every $100 spent at local businesses in a community, $68 stays in the community versus $43 of every $100 spent at a franchise or chain business.
You will support endangered family farms: Independent farmers are personally concerned with quality, sustainability and the community. They are able to make decisions about how to treat their own land. There has never been a more critical time than today to support the small farm. With each purchase you ensure that more of your money on food goes to the farmer.
You will safeguard your familys health: Local farmers interact with the community and the markets they supply and are more available for customer feedback. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or made enables you to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones or genetically modified seed in their operations. Buy food from people you trust.
You will protect the environment: Local food does not have to travel far. This reduces carbon monoxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive. When you buy local food, you vote with your food dollar.

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