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posted: 4/21/2014 5:01 AM

Local farmers provide more healthful produce

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Veggies, fruits and eggs harvested within a day or two of a farmers market are fresh, crisp, loaded with flavor and packed with nutrients. Today, more than ever, it is so important to understand where and how your produce, eggs and meat have been grown.

Fruits and vegetables shipped to us from other states, and today mostly from other countries, must have tough skins that survive packing and shipping and also require the ability to have a reasonable shelf life. Only a handful of hybrid varieties have these characteristics, so there is little genetic diversity in commercially grown plants compared with the large number of varieties our local farms still grow to provide us all with an array of great-tasting crops all season long.

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Heirloom plants used by our farmers may even someday provide the genes needed to create crops which will thrive in changing climates. Locally grown food preserves genetic diversity, and if you are opposed to eating genetically modified fruits and veggies, you can rest assured that our farm produce was bred the old fashioned way, as nature intended -- GMO-free.

Buying from our local farmers preserves our open space, keeps our taxes in check and the farms support a clean environment which benefits not only us, but all area wildlife. As you build a relationship with the farmer you deal with at the market, you establish a relationship based on understanding and trust.

Farmers are a vanishing breed. When you make a conscious decision to support your local farmers market or local farm stand you help ensure that future generations will have access to the nourishing and abundant crops which our Illinois farmers work so hard to bring to our communities.

Pat Graceffa

Sugar Grove

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