What’s the Big Deal with Buying Local?

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Two weeks ago, the Lithonia Farmers Market invited Chef Cassandra (AKA the Chef in Pearls) to come out and host a food demonstration using farm-fresh and store-bought tomatoes. She sliced the tomatoes and garnished them with olive oil, salt and pepper, setting them on separate trays to distinguish the two varieties. As shoppers walked by, she invited them to guess which tomato was from the farmers market, and which one was from the grocery store by observing and tasting them.
To our delight, most people got it right. By looking at the color of the tomato and taking a sample from each tray, most people were able to tell right away that the more vibrant, tastier tomato was from the local farm. Chef Cassandra attributed this to the farm fresh tomato being harvested locally. Often times, produce travels great distances before getting to your local grocer. So when tomatoes are picked for the grocery store, they are typically harvested before they ripen so that they have a longer shelf life once they arrive in the produce aisle. As a result, unripe tomatoes do not have the opportunity to extract as much nutrient from the soil as a more ripe option.The longer they remain on the vine, the more they can acquire more nutrients, improving the color, taste and nutritional value of the tomato.
While tomatoes were used in the demonstration, the same principle can be applied to nearly every type of fruit or vegetable you can imagine. When you shop at your local farmer’s market, you are not just supporting your local economy; you are ensuring that the food you eat is more nutritiously dense and flavorful.
The Lithonia Farmers Market runs Sundays from 1-5 p.m. in front of City Hall. We invite you to come out to try one of our weekly food demonstrations and see if you can taste the difference. You won’t be disappointed!

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