The need to support local farmers markets and buy organic produce were discussed at the Wayne Public Library on Saturday.
North Jersey Locavores, a grassroots organization founded in Wayne a few months ago, sponsored the event, the first in the Farmer Talk Series at the . The group’s mission is to spread awareness about how farmers markets, especially those that grow organic produce, benefit the local economy and the environment.
“'Locavore’ means to return to a lifestyle that was natural for a very long time, but you have to decide what that means to you and how you can integrate it in your life,” said Erica Evans, the group’s founder. “Any amount that you can benefit your local farmer is better than not at all.”
The group stresses residents find a local farmer’s market, such as , and regularly purchase produce and other products from it rather than from supermarkets. The group regularly makes trips to farmers markets.
“Having a relationship with a local farmer or farmer’s market who provides for his or her local community isn’t as popular as it used to be,” said Anthony Bracco. “People are too far removed from where their food comes from.”
Bracco, owner of Bracco Farms in Pine Island, N.Y., spoke about how he runs his farm and the challenges doing so without chemicals or pesticides presents.
Bracco does not use any fertilizers or anything else to stimulate plant growth. He hand picks his weeds or uses an all-natural citrus concentrate to kill them. Turning over the soil is all he does to stimulate crop growth in the spring.
Evans noted the increased amount of produce sold in supermarkets that is grown in other countries. Residents can just as easily purchase the same produce, including corn, tomatoes, and string beans, at local farmer’s markets. Although it might not be organic, the produce grown at these markets is often healthier and fresher than the produce sold at supermarkets.
“If we can grow it here, why aren’t we buying that produce,” Evans asked.
Bracco said that large corporate farms bend the rules to cut costs or yield more crops. Even local farmers markets can sometimes be deceiving; he said. Some farmers sell produce they don’t grow themselves because the product might not be in season. He said consumers should always ask the farmer if the food he or she sells is grown at the farm and how they cultivate it.
“If you buy locally grown products you’ll get more nutrients, but it still has the chemicals. Sure, the vegetables look spectacular, but they’re modified to look that way,” he added. ”If you go with local and organic, you won’t be at their mercy.”