“Local food is affordable if it’s accessible” counters Dave Wolpin the 27 year old farmer and owner of Kredl's farmers market in Hampton, New Brunswick.
The key is to make local food widely accessible to the public, and Farmer Dave (as he calls himself) dreams that one day he can make that happen.
Better Grocery Store Model
Grocery stores that “represent its region’s produce” are what Farmer Dave hopes he’ll be part of in the next 5 to 10 years.
His vision is that the future grocery store model “exists as a host for the products of the region that inspires both agricultural excellence and cultivates culinary culture”.
But what is agricultural excellence?
It’s agriculture without the use of chemicals, which is also Farmer Dave’s long-standing philosophy. He’s boisterously proud that his farm produce is “no-spray” and quite indignant why anyone would ever spray chemicals on their produce.
For one thing, organic certification costs money which translates to added cost for the consumer. So Farmer Dave settles with a “no-spray local” label for his own farm produce.
Granted, we’ll have to take his word for that. However, even with an organic certification, mandatory laboratory testing to ensure that the produce has no pesticides is not part of the process. Essentially, we still end up having to trust that the “organic” label holds up - and then pay added cost anyway.
Local Produce Price-Comparison
Farmer Dave started pruning his first garden with gooseberries and rhubarb at 4 years of age. No doubt about it: food was his first love. In fact, he was already found crawling around his parent’s garden at age 2!
Born and raised in the small town of Hampton with a population of 4,292, it was not a surprise when Farmer Dave joined the Kredl's payroll at age 11. In fact, it seemed only natural to him and those close to him when finally--11 years later--he has taken over full ownership of Kredl's at age 22.
To demonstrate his point on the affordability of local food, Farmer Dave and his team created a price-comparison spreadsheet with a list of produce, its origin and price snapshot is available on his site. You can check it out right here.
Here’s an excerpt of the price comparison of produce sourced locally (within the Maritimes: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) vs those from two other grocery chains:
Four Reasons To Go Local
Here are four reasons to shop local according to Farmer Dave:
#1. Key to a thriving economy
“People don’t realize how substantial local multiplier economic [sic] can be”, was Farmer Dave’s empathic answer. In simple terms, the local multiplier effect champions supporting local as the key to a thriving economy.
He shares that Simply For Life founder (and local resident) Bruce Sweeney was one of his first clients back in 2009 when Farmer Dave started offering his weekly seasonal ‘produce packs’.
Although he did not know it back then, his ‘produce packs’ were also known as CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) packs. These seasonal local packs of fresh produce are typically picked straight from the farm first thing in the morning and delivered to convenient pick-up locations a few hours later (yes, the very same day) where individuals and families come and get their subscribed produce package.
Last year, I signed up for Farmer Dave’s $40 weekly produce packs from June to December which included: a weeklong vegetable supply, some herbs, some fruit or mushrooms depending on the week, a dozen eggs, and a fresh loaf of bread from Kredl’s bakery.
He anticipates about 200 families will sign up for his weekly produce packs this year. In fact, he shares that in the next two months he plans to fill 30 positions, half of which are full-time. This spike of employment will not go unnoticed in a small town.
I haven’t yet, but I definitely plan to sign up again this year. And I can hardly wait to get my fresh produce packs come June!
#2. In-season produce is always cheaper
“Buying local in-season produce is always going to be cheaper.”
There is a misconception, says Farmer Dave, that local produce is only available for 6 months when, in fact, we can buy local produce all year round. When asked for specific produce available all-year round, here’s his list:
- sweet potatoes
- greenhouse tomatoes
- greenhouse english cucumbers
#3. Less travel time
Local means less travel time, which then decreases the cost for food transportation.
In season produce is not only more delicious, it is also cheaper because it is in abundant supply. When there’s a surplus of produce, the cost goes down.
#4. More nutritious
And what about the health effects? Farmer Dave’s consistent position is this:
“As a human, your mission should be to seek out the most nutritious food. It happens to be that food that travels less and is grown in nutrient dense soil is the most nutritious. So, local and organic or food grown in really great soil are byproducts of eating nutritious food.”
But why is local food more nutritious?
You may have noticed that most produce sold at large grocery stores is grown thousands of miles away: California, Mexico, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, and China.
Consider an apple.
Caleb Harper--in this Ted Talk--asked how old an apple typically sold from a grocery store is.
A few weeks? Maybe a couple of months, at the most?
It turns out that the average age of an apple is a staggering 11 months! Just a month shy of a year.
Why should we care? Because after 11 months of storage “90% of the quality of that apple, all the antioxidants are gone...It’s basically a little ball of sugar” Caleb Harper points out in his Ted Talk.
So we thought we were taking a bite of nutrition from that apple...Turns out, all we’re getting is subprime nourishment. A distasteful reality check.
Few people would argue that farming is hard work. For Farmer Dave, it’s more than work...it’s also about striving to make nutritious local food widely accessible to local residents at an affordable price.
“There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t find meaning in what I do”, says Farmer Dave. It’s not hard to get on board with that.
Getting to know your local farmers and food suppliers can bring insight to what you put on your plate. With reports on food counterfeit increasing in recent years, it’s yet another reminder that as consumers we need to watch our backs...this time against food fraud.
If you’re interested in this topic, check out my follow-up post on how to get real food for less. I shared some simple tips as well as a compilation of local farmers by province.
For now, here’s my take: nutritious food is a health investment. I spend selectively on the non-essentials so I can allocate more of my capital towards nutritious food, which is a daily essential.
Where do you stand? Leave a comment below...
Updated: March 24, 2017