This past month my fabulous friend Reese and I enjoyed a beautiful Saturday afternoon at a local organic farm, La Milpa. Once a month, the owners of this farm graciously host a free open house where a potluck dinner is enjoyed. It is followed by live music, and then a movie under the stars viewed from a haystack seat under the oak trees, with a glass of wine in hand. Now that's my idea of a perfect night! The beauty of this event is that it brings together people from all over San Diego county to learn where their food comes from, meet others with a similar passion for sustainable food, and most noteworthy, leave with a deeper knowledge of the importance of eating local.
During our visit, there were so many delicious items, as everyone brings a dish to share. Pizzas are cooked in an outdoor wood-fired oven. The owner of the farm makes homemade pizza dough, and then tops it with fresh veggies and non-dairy Daiya cheese. It was the best pizza I have had in a long, long time!

La Milpa grows organic vegetables, greens and herbs, which they deliver to local restaurants, community supported agriculture members (CSAs), and sell at the San Diego farmer’s markets. La Milpa is owned by a family that is passionate about the land, healthy eating, and educating others.

One of the owners of La Milpa treated us to a tour of the farm, as he explained the many benefits of supporting local agriculture:

Local food is fresher and tastes better than food shipped long distances from other states or countries. Local farmers can offer produce varieties bred for taste and freshness rather than for shipping and long shelf life. Fresh, local fruits and vegetables also retain more nutrients than produce shipped hundreds of miles. When you eat local food, you are getting food much more rich in vitamins and minerals, in addition to the great taste. 

Buying local food keeps your dollars circulating in your community. Getting to know the farmers who grow your food builds relationships based on understanding and trust, the foundation of strong communities.

There's never been a more critical time to support your farming neighbors. With each local food purchase, you ensure that more of your money spent on food goes to the farmer.

 Knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown or raised enables you to choose safe food from farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified seed in their operations. Buy food from local farmers you trust.

 Local food doesn't have to travel far. This reduces carbon dioxide emissions and packing materials. Buying local food also helps to make farming more profitable and selling farmland for development less attractive. 

Some easy ways to support your local farms are:
-Buy local at your grocery store, and encourage your grocer to support local farms. Look at label for county of origin so that you be sure to choose local whenever possible.
-Eat food that is in season. Do you really need to have certain foods ALL year long? When you eat in season often you are forced to step outside of your comfort zone and try new foods, and that is always a good thing!
-Shop at farmer's markets or join a CSA (find one near you here)

Remember, when you buy local food, you cast a vote with your dollar. This vote ensures that family farms in your community will continue to thrive and that healthy, flavorful, plentiful food will be available for future generations.