Editors, vendors praise growing and eating local
Local, organic food is the future of the North Coast, according to Ann Anderson, one of the editors of the recipe book "Locally Delicious."
Anderson spoke on Saturday afternoon at the Regional Indoor Farmers Market about the importance of eating food grown locally because doing so supports farmers, the economy and the environment. Her fellow "Heirloom Tomatoes" were also on hand to sign copies of their book.
"Local, organic food is better for us," Anderson said, speaking not
only about personal health, but "the vitality of the community and the
The more than 700 people who came to the market at the fairgrounds
must have gotten that message before Anderson's presentation even
Some of the 20 vendors had sold most of their goods before 5 p.m.,
including The Dutch Gardener's Nun Better cilantro pesto and jars of
honey, winter greens grown by Ocean Air Farms and Big Foot Foods' smoked
Other local farms, jewelers, artisans and organizations were also at
the indoor market.
While many local people are growing and making food to sell, it's
only a small portion - about 10 percent - of what people are eating on
the North Coast, Anderson said.
"Not enough is produced locally to sustain ourselves," she told the
audience as the vendors closed up their booths.
Anderson gave a list of reasons to eat local - the first being food
tastes better when it's ripe and fresh out of the garden.
Anderson said she and the other five women who put together "Locally
Delicious" dubbed themselves "Heirloom Tomatoes" because the old-world
variety of the red fruit "best represents the difference between fresh,
local food and
commercially produced food."
Bright red tomatoes at the grocery store are bred to travel well, but
don't have a lot of flavor, Anderson said.
By choosing commercial food, people are depriving themselves of a
variety of fruits and vegetables, she said.
As industrial food grew in the last century, about 75 percent of
those different varieties were lost, Anderson explained, adding that
many farmers today are trying to keep those old varieties alive.
"By supporting local farmers, that's how we get this variety," she
said. "Use it or lose it."
By growing more food locally, Anderson said, the North Coast region
could help solve one of its biggest problems: food insecurity (not being
able to afford healthy food or not having access to it).
Because only a small portion of food is being produced here, she
explained, people have to rely on food that's grown elsewhere.
However, if blight or disease infects a particular crop "we could
lose a huge proportion of our food," Anderson said.
Buying food from local farmers and producers keeps money in the
community, Anderson said, explaining that a dollar spent locally
circulates three times in that community.
In addition, businesses tend to donate to organizations in their own
community, she said.
"You're building a stronger community," Anderson said about eating
By buying food locally, people can also see where and how their food
is being grown, she said.
Non-organic produce has pesticides and excess nitrates, Anderson
said, both of which are bad for the body and the environment.
To produce "industrial meat," she said, animals are treated
inhumanely and given antibiotics, which has led to the "modern problem"
of E. coli.
Living in close quarters makes animals more susceptible to disease
and they have to be treated with antibiotics, she said. Because there
are antibiotics in meat and therefore in humans' bodies, bacteria like
E. coli have evolved to be resistant to the medicine, she said.
Organic, grass-fed beef, she said, is healthier for the body because
it has less fat and no antibiotics or steroids.
It can be expensive to buy local organic food, Anderson said, but the
cost of buying commercial food is unseen.
What's not included in the price is the pollution industrial
agriculture causes and its effects on the environment and climate
change, she explained, along with the rise in health-care costs because
people are more unhealthy than they use to be from eating processed and
"It ain't so cheap," Anderson said.
The price of food is also tied to the cost of oil, she said. When the
oil prices skyrocket, so does food because it has to be trucked all
over the country.
"Local food uses 17 times less petroleum," Anderson said.
These are all reason to chose locally-grown food, she said. The more
demand there is to eat local, the more farmers can afford to grow food
and raise livestock - the soil and climate is already conducive for
"We live in an area where we can take care of ourselves," Anderson
said. "We can do it."
Grow food in back yards or community gardens, she advised, then
preserve for it for the months when there isn't as much fresh produce by
canning, drying or pickling it.
To get involved, Anderson suggested persuading grocery stores to
carry locally-grown food or joining groups involved in the local food
"We can win out over agriculture industrial giants," she said, "one
tomato at a time."