For the consumer there are several advantages to buying locally grown produce. It is fresher and more nutritious because it spends a lot less time traveling from the field to the table. It should be less expensive because of lower transportation costs. It’s better for the environment because there is a reduced carbon footprint with the shorter distance for hauling the food. And buying locally grown products puts your money back into the local economy – the economy that impacts you the most.
We are very fortunate to be living in a county with a strong agricultural base. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Hillsborough County has the second largest number of farms of any county in the state. Those farms produce an amazing variety of produce valued at over $392 million in annual sales.
You need to bear in mind that a lot of our local produce is seasonal so it won’t always be available year round. That’s why it’s important to try to eat what’s in season; it will be fresher and less expensive.
To help illustrate my point on the wide range of products, here is a small sampling of produce grown just in the Plant City area:
Soy products, tofu
Organic Elderberries (wild edible!)
Wines (not exactly produce, but who can deny the “Napa Valley of the Tampa Bay area?”)
When buying produce I encourage you to check the label to see where it is grown. If you can buy our local products, you’ll reap direct benefits. Beyond that, you’ll be investing in this area’s economy and in our collective food security.