Today began the Bergman family's quest for locally grown food. Sarah (my wife) and Ethan (my son) and I (Ben, that's me) found ourselves at Clark Park Farmer's Market on the corner of 43rd and Baltimore Ave. in West Philadelphia. This was our first visit to this particular farmer's market having found out about it at the Shad Festival two weeks before. We didn't know what to expect as far as the "pickins" were concerned but were delighted by what we found. Organically grown lettuce, potatoes, organic grass fed eggs and beef were only some of the the locally grown Pennsylvanian potpourri.
Eating locally benefits everybody and there is a warm feeling about shaking the hand of the guy who picked the tomato you are cutting up for your omelet. Locally grown food (especially organically grown) is healthier for you and the Earth. Most local small farms don't use practices utilized by the Industrial Food Chain such as monoculture, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, etc. They don't need to. Their farming methods don't stress the land enough to require artificial growth enhancers. So says the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD):
“Local food is often safer, too...Even when it’s not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about dousing their wares with chemicals.” Small farms are also more likely to grow more variety, says CNAD, protecting biodiversity and preserving a wider agricultural gene pool, an important factor in long-term food security.
Besides the biological and environmental benefits of eating locally, the human factor makes the taste of the food all the sweeter. With the advent of the Internet, cell phones, texting, and the like, while we can keep in touch with each other as never before we don't actually touch each other - physically as well as metaphorically. A hand-shake, a smile - human contact. Meeting your neighbors over a stand of organic arugula can really be a rewarding experience! Sarah and Ethan and I are going to spend the summer checking out farmer's markets in the Philadelphia area. I'll keep you posted.