Local food in Syracuse area can create positive environmental, economic effects

As summer begins to wind down, one thing springs to mind for many a locavore: Seasonal veggies are back.

Locavores (read like “carnivore” or “herbivore”) rejoice in September. The abundance of fresh, local food is breathtaking. Lettuce, cucumbers, corn, peppers, tomatoes and so much more are ready for picking. On top of this, there is no better place to be in harvest times than the Central New York area.

In CNY, students can go local in any number of ways: joining Community Support Agriculture, buying from local farms, heading to the farmers’ market, hitting up the food co-op or even stopping by a local Wegmans.

The first option may seem like a bit of a stretch for students. Joining CSA requires the student to spend money up front to receive vegetables, fruits and/or meat throughout the growing season. It also requires a car. While I champion this option, sometimes it’s just not very feasible.

Buying directly from local farms is another great option, but still requires you to reach out to wherever the farm is located. To alleviate this dilemma, local farms sell their wears at farmers’ markets and grocery stores throughout the area.

Living in the Eastside of Syracuse, a great asset for local foods is the Syracuse Eastside Neighborhood Farmers’ Market. Every Wednesday from 2-7 p.m. until Oct. 26, the market sits on the corner of Westcott Street and Euclid Avenue, next to the Westcott Community Center.

For a larger farmers’ market, you can head down to the CNY Regional Market, across from Destiny USA and adjacent to the Regional Transportation Center. The market features a larger selection of farms and is open all year round on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Until November, you can also shop the same times on Thursdays, as well.

Back on the Eastside, there is another option for local food at the Syracuse Real Food Co-op. On Kensington Road, there lies a quaint store full of organic and local foods; very much similar to the chain stores, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Here you can buy year round from farms surrounding Syracuse, getting everything from goat cheese from the Finger Lakes to cucumbers from Reeves Farm in Baldwinsville.

If you’re as obsessed with Wegmans as every other CNY resident, I implore you to check out its local foods section. The grocery chain also supports local agriculture, with farms selling their products grown in every direction surrounding Syracuse.

Syracuse is full of myriad ways to access locally grown foods. Whether you buy from the farm directly or purchase veggies at Weggies, the importance is to buy local whenever you can.

Not only are there many positive environmental impacts — decreased transportation, for example, which increases freshness and decreases greenhouse gas emissions and uses of preservatives and other chemicals on our food — but there are positive effects on our community. By supporting local farmers, you support our economy. You keep people in work in a field they are passionate about.

Through supporting these businesses, you can create a connection to your locality. Buying directly from farmers will show you how your food is grown, and you can then be sure that it comes pesticide-free, organic or GMO-free. This forges the connection between you and your food, solidifying the food exchange.

Support local farmers. Be a locavore.

Meg Callaghan is a junior environmental studies major and writing minor at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Her column appears weekly. She can be reached at mlcallag@syr.edu.


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