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Healthy Harvest: New England

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Eating sustainably-grown crops reduces the potential human health and environmental consequences of pesticides. The greater the distance food has to travel to the consumer, the greater the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.

Buying local food encourages farmers to diversify their crops. Diversity in the fields decreases vulnerability to pests, extreme weather, and disease. In addition, purchasing local food benefits your local economy.

This guide presents a broad average as availability dates depend on climate variations in each part of the region. Some fruits and vegetables are highly perishable and are available only during the period when they are harvested. However, there are others that store well, extending their availability beyond their harvest dates.

As consumers, we have the power to support sustainable agriculture and encourage crop diversification by choosing to buy local food. When we buy food from local farmers, we are supporting small-scale agriculture and encourage farmers to grow a wider variety of crops.

Small-scale farmers often rely on a narrow range of crops for their livelihood, as they may lack the resources and infrastructure to compete with larger agribusinesses. However, when consumers choose to buy local food, they are supporting these small-scale farmers and helping to ensure their economic sustainability.

When farmers have a guaranteed market for their produce, they are more likely to experiment with new crops and farming practices. This experimentation can lead to a greater diversity of crops, which in turn can help to promote healthy soil and ecosystems. Additionally, crop diversity can help to mitigate the effects of pests, diseases, and extreme weather events, which can devastate monoculture crops.

Buying local food can also help to reduce the carbon footprint of the food we consume. When we buy food that is grown locally, we are supporting a shorter supply chain that requires less transportation and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Supporting local farmers and promoting crop diversification is not only good for the environment, but it is also beneficial for our health. Eating a diverse range of fruits and vegetables can help to ensure that we are getting a variety of essential nutrients and vitamins.

When we buy local food, we are also supporting the local economy. The money we spend on local food stays in the community and can help to create jobs and support other local businesses.

In summary, choosing to buy local food has numerous benefits, both for our health and for the environment. By supporting small-scale farmers, we are helping to promote sustainable agriculture and crop diversification. So, next time you're at the grocery store or farmer's market, consider choosing local produce and supporting your local farmers.

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH

Aaron Bernstein is the Interim Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, a pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics.

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