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Most of us today run into the Super-Mega Amazingly Comprehensive Supermarket – one of which is most likely conveniently located on each corner on our way home from work – to buy our fruits and vegetables. But how long has that food been sitting there? Where was it grown? Under what conditions? One of the problems with produce from supermarkets – even produce labeled organic – is that you have no idea how old it is.
Where it was grown, how long it took to get to the store you're shopping at, and then how long it has been on display all add to the age of the fruit or vegetable you may be purchasing. And the longer a piece of fruit or vegetable sits, the less nutritious is becomes.
Although supermarkets are convenient, there is a better way to be a green shopper. That way is to buy your produce locally. Farmer's markets are perhaps the best-known, and the best, way to be a local shopper. Usually held on weekends, farmer's markets bring together local growers and producers to sell their wares and chat with customers. You can buy produce that was harvested as recently as a day before; what's even better, you can ask the vendor how fresh the items are and about his farming methods, so you can be “in the know” about what you're going to be eating.
Another benefit to buying local is the reduced need for packaging; since the food is only traveling a short way, and since it is going to be sold much sooner than food in a supermarket, the need for extensive packaging is gone. Lastly, when you buy from local growers, you are supporting people right in your own back yard. This support helps the local economy and will be a benefit to your community.