Will Ride for Food
Support Your Local Farmers
By Tara R. McKee
There is a change in the air that can be felt in mid-September, and because we are often outdoors riding our bicycles, we feel that connection to the changing seasons. The slant of the sunlight is different, you can smell the straw as the wind blows across the wheat fields, but the wheat is gone. Gardens and farms are busy with the harvest of summer’s bounty. Take part in the enjoyment of the fall harvest, put a big basket on your bike, and arrange to meet your friends along the way as you ride to the market that has the freshest and tastiest fruits and vegetables in the area: your local farmers market.
At the farmers market (or the farm stands) near you, you can buy fruits and vegetables from the farm family that planted the seeds and lovingly cared for it until the day it was harvested. The produce there will have been picked only hours before, not several days before (or imported from a foreign country.) It will be at the peak of its season, with a fresh taste that you won’t find under artificial lights. Since variety is the spice of life at farmers markets, you’ll often find heirloom varieties, beautiful Easter-egg colored radishes, red carrots, blue potatoes, and apples known for taste instead of long storage qualities. If you are lucky, you might find a family that sells glass jars of local honey or jugs of fresh-pressed cider.
Less time between farm and table means that fruits and vegetables aren’t exposed to temperature ranges, air, ultraviolet lights and long times in storage that robs them of nutrients such as vitamins C, E, A (free radical-fighting antioxidants,) B-vitamins essential in energy production and folate. The bountiful harvest of locally-grown crops is often less expensive than the supermarket varieties and you can feel good supporting local farmers not a big agribusiness.
Now is the time to load up on sun-ripened peaches, peppers, sweet corn or the last melons of summer. Don’t know where to go? Visit the website: www.localharvest.org for help in finding family farms and farmer’s markets near you. If you have an iPhone, you can get a great application called Locavore 2.0 that will tell you what food in your area is in season and will help you find a local farmer’s market or local farm based on your GPS position or zip code.