Ten reasons why local food matters

October 8, 2021

Good Apple delivers locally-grown fruits and vegetables to people all over Austin. All of the produce in our customer’s Good Apple boxes comes from small farms here in Texas, mostly in Central Texas right around Austin. We believe that local food is better, and we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 reasons why.

  1. Local farms are better for the environment. Did you know that 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions are caused by industrial food production? Fruits and vegetables from large industrial farms are harvested using large machinery and then shipped far away (the average carrot travels over 1,800 miles before it reaches your plate). By eating local, seasonal produce, you’re reducing the carbon footprint of your meals dramatically. 
  2. Local farms create stronger ecosystems. They perform vital ecosystem services such as maintaining fertile soil, protecting water sources, preventing erosion, and replacing carbon dioxide with oxygen in the atmosphere. They also provide a habitat for wildlife, including thousands of species of beneficial insects, pollinators, and birds, which are crucial for preserving local biodiversity.
  3. Local farms are good for local economies. At least 1/3 of farmworker families earn incomes placing them below the poverty line, but increasing demand for local food helps make farming economically viable. Selling locally means that farmers can charge a fair price and keep more of their profits.
  4. Local farms are at risk. More than 100,000 farms have been lost between 2011 and 2018 in the U.S., and 75% of all agricultural sales in the U.S. come from just 5% of operations. It can be hard, if not impossible, for small farms to compete in the world of big agriculture, but buying locally provides an alternative and a means to keep small farms in business. 
  5. Local farms preserve viable farmland. Because farmers who sell their food locally are paid more for their products, they are less likely to sell their farmland for development. This helps to preserve farmland. In Travis County alone, 9.3 acres of farmland are lost to development each day, and over the last 11 years Travis County has lost 25% of its farmland. Losing farmland at this rate is unprecedented and returning developed land into farming in the future is costly, difficult, and environmentally damaging.
  6. Local farms grow tastier food! Local produce is harvested at the peak of ripeness instead of being harvested early and then chemically ripened. Additionally, crop varieties are chosen for their taste rather than for their ability to survive packing and last for a long time on the shelf.
  7. Local food is more nutritious. Fresh produce at the grocery store is often a week or more old, but the produce in your Good Apple boxes is usually harvested only a few days prior to delivery. The longer fresh fruits and vegetables sit between harvest and mealtime, the more nutrients they lose. For example, vegetables lose 15-77% of their vitamin C within a week of harvest, and spinach loses half of its folate in 4-6 days after harvest. 
  8. Local food preserves genetic diversity. Small, local farms often grow many varieties of crops including heirloom varieties that provide a long harvest season and an array of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors not found in grocery stores. Genetic diversity in crops helps protect against unexpected threats such as new pests or changing climates. It also creates improved varieties and allows us to adapt to our changing world.
  9. Local farms give us control over the hidden costs of our food. These hidden costs include the negative environmental impacts from large industrial farming, the poor health outcomes associated with eating low quality food, and the low wages for farmworkers that increase poverty rates. By buying locally, we can be ethical consumers of our food. 
  10. Local farms build community. When you buy food that was grown locally, you are supporting the local economy and gaining insight into the seasons, the land, and your food. Each week we publish a list of the produce in your Good Apple box and the farm where each item came from. We love sharing about the farmers that grow our food, and if you have any questions you are always welcome to reach out.