New York Local Produce: From Farmers’ Market to Household
By Mike I. Bailey, student, SUNY Empire State College
April 7, 2016
It’s often difficult to manage a healthy lifestyle with overpriced diet and organic products. Supporting New York state farming for production of local food that is environmentally sustainable, fresh and affordable can be effective in embracing a health-conscious way of life. The best way to access locally farmed produce is through local farmers’ markets and communal spaces, where farmers gather to sell their products directly to consumers. The Union Square Greenmarket, located at East 17 St. and Union Square West, in Manhattan, is a prime venue for accessing local produce. Other alternatives include the Tucker Square Market at West 66 St. and Columbus Circle Drive, in Manhattan, or the Borough Hall Market located at Court and Montague Streets, Brooklyn.
Local food markets can support small businesses by providing income for individuals to reinvest locally. This can result in expansion of market-reach for small farm owners by creating jobs and providing access to fresh produce in urban or suburban markets. With consumer interest in local foods, urban farming agriculture projects in New York are becoming common. Last year, Food Tank Non-Profit reported that local and urban farming is critical to reducing a city’s carbon footprint by enhancing access to natural foods. As reported by EcoWatch, New York City is home to numerous urban farms. Some examples in Manhattan are the 6,000-square-foot organic vegetable garden of Eagle Street Rooftop Farm at 44 Eagle Street, or Battery Urban Farm in Battery Park.
From providing produce at the peak of freshness, to meeting the people who grow the crops, there are reasons to support local farms and farmers’ markets. Local produce is typically free of GMO’s and pesticides utilized by commercial farmers to process and extend the shelf life of their product. No long-distance shipping, gassing to simulate the ripening process, or sitting for weeks in storage prior to shipping. This means more of fresh and healthy products and less opportunities for contamination and food outbreaks such as e-coli or salmonella poisoning.
So with the rise of local farms and farmer’s markets, individuals can be empowered to improve lifestyle decisions on the basis of who, how and where their food is cultivated. Access to local foods in our communities means that good health can also be part of an affordable lifestyle.
And don’t skip exercise because a gym membership isn’t in the budget. Plan ahead for what you need, bring a backpack and walk or bike to your local farmer’s market. Exercise options are endless and there are many creative ways to work out for free.
For more information on health and wellness, don’t forget to register for SUNY Empire State College’s fourth annual Student Wellness Retreat, April 14-16, at the Hilton in downtown Albany, N.Y.
Did You Know
Five students at Empire State College were recently selected to receive the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.