Howdy Friends and Fans! Here we are in December! We are quickly zipping on to the end of the year, and all that entails, from celebrating our celebrations, such as (not a complete list, and in no particular order) Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, Ōmisoka, New Year's Eve, St. Stephen's Day, Winter Solstice, Las Posadas, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Festivus for the Rest of us, or nothing at all. We hope that whichever celebration you hold dear, it brings you much joy and meaning, and you get to splurge a little in the relaxation department.
Today, Lettuce Chat about the ripple effect and some of the benefits of buying local food. Friends and Fans, if you do a Google search, you will quickly discover that this topic has been done. It has been gone over to the point that it has been juiced into a smoothie, really. It has been a very important topic for well more than 10 years now, and still is, even more so today. I do not pretend to be creative enough to add any new information to the topic, but I do plan to highlight a few benefits and relate them to ESH hydroponic lettuce. Also, I fully realize that I am preaching to the choir.
"Buy Fresh, Buy Local", "Farm to Table", and "Farm to Fork" are all phrases that many consumers consciously look for, know well, and hold in high regard. There are many food experts (one of the first proponents being Ms. Alice Waters) who have long emphasized the importance of buying locally produced food. Restaurants are in agreement, and in some ways, leading the charge. The reasons are aplenty, from environmental benefits to health benefits.
Back in July, we posted a blog post about "Why Hydroponics?". That blog post covers a large portion of several benefits related to growing food hydroponically and locally. In addition to those bullet points, I'd like to add the benefits of accessibility, reducing food miles, and local economic stability. (Again, these are not my bright / original ideas. It's easy to run across them elsewhere, but you can read briefly about a few of them right here.)
Local businesses (small farms / ESH in this case) have the opportunity to operate and sell their products in their own communities, and strengthen communities. Unlike large scale commercial operations that distribute their produce nationally, farms like ours have a small range of distribution that we stick to. We heed logical limitations such as driving distance, cost of distribution, and food safety / transportation storage considerations. For example, we deliver our products to the local DMV area. Specifically, we stick to our little bubble of the Purcellville area, and eastward into D.C. That's as far as we go. It would make no sense to expand farther. (Shout-out to Falls Church and DuPont Circle customers!!)
Driving distance is related to environmental footprint and cost of distribution, as well as food safety. Locally grown produce travels less (miles and time). Less miles equals less fuel used and less vehicle emissions. Less time equals frESH, more nutritious, and safer produce. Also, local customers only have a short distance to drive to grab their favorite produce.
Speaking of time... Let's use an example that we know a little about, lettuce. The longer a bag of lettuce sits after harvest and production, the less nutritious it can become, and the potential for breakdown, spoilage, and food-borne illness grows. We generally harvest, prepare, and distribute our lettuce in less than one week. This means that ESH Loudoun Lettuce is only days old, rather than weeks or months, like the bags you get from the grocery store. Nine times out of ten, I can tell you when that salad bag you just purchased from us (thanks for supporting us!) was made (because I made it). Can the grocery store manager do that? Also, you know our lettuce will safely last in your refrigerator for far longer than that grocery store bag!
And to address a possible elephant in the room, yes we know locally produced ESH greens are a tad bit more expensive than the bag you can buy at the local box store. [For example, many foods are made to be less expensive because of the processing, chemicals, and additives that make the food as shelf-stable as it is, which results in less spoilage and waste (think canned soup). Companies lose less cash when they don't have to throw away food.] Anyway, the processing it takes to get that cheaper item into your hands potentially introduces some pretty gnarly chemicals into your food, which is what makes it stable enough to make the month long trip from Who-Knows-Where, USA (was it grown in the USA?), all the way to that box store to wait for you to be the eighth person to pick it up and put it back down. If you are a health conscious person (and I'm assuming you are), you would likely rather not ingest those chemicals, or an almost-done-for lettuce.
Please don't get me wrong, the grocery store / box store serves a very important and necessary purpose. Heck, I find myself at the grocery store at least twice a week (I feed hungry boys, you know how that goes, plus you can't buy TP or hamburger buns at your local lettuce farm). But any time you can find and purchase locally grown produce or items, the benefits are exponential and on the pro side of the fence.
More important than all of the above is the fact that the local folks (you) have the opportunity to get to know us and vice versa. That personal connection that we have with you is so so awesome. You get to ask us questions, learn about our products, see exactly how we do what we do (watch the farm tour!), and what we do to make the best salad on Planet Earth. Unless your salad company has been featured on an episode of "How It's Made", I doubt you will have access to that kind of information about the box store lettuce. When you have personal connection and information flow, you develop a trust in your local farmer. That level of personal connection also develops brand loyalty, which we appreciate!! Our customers have become sort of an extended family, and we hold dear each and every connection we have made. This is why it is most beneficial for us to get our products in the hands of the local community.
Let's move on to the fact that you are supporting local business. This extends back into the community in ways that I cannot fully cover. Superficially, you are not only supporting one local lettuce factory, but all the local people who work to produce your lettuce, their families, the businesses that we support with our income, and the local businesses and schools we partner with, and so on, and so on, and so on. That's no small ripple in the pond, my Friends. Another ripple is the ever-so-important food banks that distribute produce to local families. This ripple is most important, as families and growing children are able to eat super-nutritious produce from local sources. We think you might be surprised just how far the ripple of your support goes. Here is a video showing you exactly what that means.
Friends and Fans, we know you already full well know the benefits of buying local. Otherwise, I don't think you'd be buying our frESH lettuce and greens. We sure do appreciate you backing us, supporting us, and cheering us on. As small farmers go, we are the luckiest, most appreciative little lettuce farmers in Loudoun County. Thanks again for chatting with us. Ripple On, and Lettuce Chat again soon!