April 13, 2023

Support Your Local Farmer

By Laura Drummond
Support Your Local Farmer

In our last post, we discussed how reducing meat in your diet is one way to eat sustainably. Another way is to source your food locally. 


Food-miles (i.e., the distance between where the food is grown and where it is consumed) contribute significantly to our collective carbon footprint.   


A study published in 2022 by the science journal Nature Food found that the transport of food around the world is responsible for about 3 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions, that’s roughly 19% of total food-system carbon emissions. “Global freight transport associated with vegetable and fruit consumption contributes 36% of food-miles emissions—almost twice the amount of greenhouse gasses released during their production,” reports the study. “To mitigate the environmental impact of food, a shift toward plant-based foods must be coupled with more locally produced items, mainly in affluent countries.”


Even if you’re eating a plant-based diet, you may still be contributing to a significant carbon footprint depending on where and how you source your food. That’s why it’s so important to choose local food sources whenever we can. When we buy food produced locally, we are making important strides to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 


Not only are you making a positive global impact when you eat local foods, you’re also contributing to a vibrant, healthy local economy. When you support local farmers and food growers, you are essentially investing dollars right back into our area. Local farmers hire workers, pay taxes, and provide important services to our community. 


Eating food grown locally is also a healthier option for you. Food harvested locally is often fresher. Fruits and vegetables have generally only been picked mere hours—a day or two maximum—before you purchase them. 


The length of time between when food is harvested and when it’s eaten can cause a decrease in nutrient levels, so locally sourced food is truly the more nutritious option. Not to mention, food grown locally is picked at peak freshness; food that needs to travel long distances over many days is often picked early so it doesn’t go bad in transport. Local foods generally don’t have waxes and other chemicals applied to them because they don’t have to last as long from farm to plate. 


When you purchase food locally, you can know more about the conditions in which the food was raised. Was it grown organically or were chemicals used? You can’t be certain when it comes to food in the grocery store, but you can ask your local farmer.


Eating locally grown food also means you’re eating seasonally. This can require some more creativity when it comes to your meal plan, but it also ensures you’re eating food that’s healthy and good for you, your community, and the environment. 


To learn more about what’s in season and when in Virginia, visit virginiagrown.com (via Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services). You can also find local growers, buyers, processors, and more thanks to this VDACS database


Here are some of our favorite places to buy food locally:

Barracks Road Farm Market (Monday through Friday)

City Market & Farmers in the Park (Water Street: Saturdays April through November; Meade Park: Wednesdays May through September)

Farmers Market at IX Art Park (every Saturday)


Explore more farmers markets around Virginia at Virginia is for Farmers Market Lovers.


It’s also CSA season! Consider signing up for a CSA with one of these wonderful local farms:

Bellair Farm

Ladybird Farm

September Sun Produce

Keep your farmers market and CSA spoils from spoiling! Check out these handy items we offer that keep fruits and vegetables fresh longer than plastic storage: 

Vegetable Crisper Bag

Muslin Produce Bag

Mesh Produce Bag 

When you’re going out for a night on the town, pick a restaurant that sources food locally. What’s better than supporting local restaurants and local farmers at the same time?! Here are some of our recommendations:

The Ivy Inn


The Local

Mas Tapas 

Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar

Roots Natural Kitchen

Splendora’s Gelato 

The Whiskey Jar

And here are some other resources to help you eat locally:

Cultivate Charlottesville

Local Food Hub


Laura Drummond, a sustainability-focused freelance writer based in Charlottesville, is our blog contributor. 

food miles local farmers