Celebrate GCM's dedication to sustainability this Earth Day!
Supporting sustainable agriculture does not have to be difficult, expensive, or boring. Creating relationships with the people who produce your food puts you more in touch with what you are eating, how it is grown, and how it impacts our environment. It can also make creating your next dinner menu into an exciting adventure while helping to stem the effects of climate change and expand your sense of community. Supporting farmers markets and eating locally is the best way to make everyday you eat into Earth Day.
GCM has long been a proponent of encouraging sustainable farming practices that cater to local consumers, as evidenced by the fantastic choice of vendors and the mission of the market itself. Connecting local farms with customers that are within the same region cuts down on carbon emissions, pesticide usage, and ensures that the food you get is healthier and better tasting. For instance, a 2007 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that importing agricultural products by plane into the state of California contributed nearly 250,000 tons of greenhouse gases over a seven year period. The study also showed that many of the products imported from other countries are in fact grown locally in the state, but were imported to meet year round demands. We see the same thing happening in Illinois as well.
Another benefit of supporting local agriculture is that you have the opportunity meet the people that are growing your food and talk to them about their farming practices. Even certified organic produce may be inundated with pesticides, and there is no way you would know that if you just go by the labels you see on produce found at a conventional grocery store. One of the largest benefits of buying at GCM is that you know that each farmer is certified by a nationally recognized 3rd party agency, ensuring the highest quality products, as well as their commitment to environmental stewardship and the responsible treatment of animals. You can meet the people who are growing your food first hand and ask them in to explain their sustainable growing practices how they handle pest management.
Lastly, local food tends to taste better and be healthier for you. Most crops that we may purchase at a store are bred for yield and transportability, not nutrition and taste. That is why you often see perfect looking tomatoes (as in round and no dents) at your local supermarket in the winter that taste like a ball of water and not much else. Local farmers tend to grow a wide variety of crops, and even wide varieties within crops that have a wealth of different tastes, textures and colors. GCM not only a marketplace that makes these crops available, but also a place to explore how to cook with them at home through chef demo, the GCM cookbook and, of course, asking the farmers who grow for tips on what to do with your ramps or purple cauliflower.
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