Consider an apple on a grocery store shelf. Bright green and waxy, a Granny Smith apple can travel over 8,000 miles to get from New Zealand to North Carolina. A combination of trucks, airplanes, and refrigerated ships are often used to keep apples fresh on their journey. They’re touched by countless hands as they travel from orchard to packing house to truck depot to harbor before they even reach the United States.
Now think about an apple at a local farmers market. Small farmers in Henderson County and other parts of Western North Carolina often pack up their vans and drive straight to the farmers market, where customers can eat an apple on the spot or bring it home in their own car. Those apples might only travel a dozen miles between the orchard and a child’s lunch box.
Minimizing the number of miles between grower and consumer supports a strong local food economy. Several local farmers have stopped shipping apples to packing houses up north, and instead rely on local farmers markets for their income. This lets them focus on varieties that grow well here, like Gold Rush, which is green and tangy and can be substituted for Granny Smith. Variety is the spice of life, and choosing uncommon varieties of fruits and vegetables is one of the best things about eating locally.
Next time you’re tempted by a tower of apples at the grocery store, look for a local option. Some grocery stores sell locally-grown produce, and farmers markets offer an array of fruits and vegetables grown in our community.
Find local orchards, farmers markets, and more in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide: www.appalachiangrown.org