Fresh Colorado peaches signal the end of summer with a splash of sweetness.  In the orchard of my childhood farm in South Central Nebraska, we had three peach trees, but they didn’t produce anything as big and tasty as the beauties sent over from Colorado.

My apologies to the “local” peaches, but I’ll pass them over any day in favor for a lug of  Colorado peaches in August.  I’ll even give up chocolate {gasp!} for a perfect fresh peach.  Most of my family will devour them like candy.  (Always wash fruit and produce first, even if it’s organic.)

Buying local is a growing trend, one that doesn’t immediately sound controversial; however, some of its supporting points that attack larger farmers are speculative.  I’m all in favor of buying locally grown produce when it’s available, but when it’s not, I’m glad I can rely on a well-supplied grocery store whose sources may or may not be local.  When I buy ripe tomatoes and jalapenos at a summertime farmer’s market, I am confident my batch of fresh salsa and will be bursting with flavor.  There’s no question that a ripe tomato straight from the vine is a treat.  People who buy sweet corn from my kids know that it’s fresh from the field and picked at just the right time for ideal flavor and texture.  That being said, I think we all feel secure knowing there are larger producers who provide a reliable supply of tasty produce to the grocery aisle throughout the year.

With every idea, a dose of common sense is necessary.  Not all of the fruits and vegetables I seek can be produced locally.  Even if they can be raised locally, they are not produced as successfully as elsewhere.  In the Great Plains, we can produce more wheat than our region requires; but we can’t produce oranges, and the nearest peach orchard I can find is still two hours from my home.  It sure makes sense to me that we transport our food beyond localities when choices would otherwise be limited due to variations in climate.  I do show preference to foods raised in the United States, but that’s not always possible, especially when shopping for foods like bananas.

As far as discussions of sustainability are concerned, on my own farm I feel confident that how we monitor soil fertility, rotate our crops, and conserve land and water resources are indeed sustainable.  Extreme proponents of buying local will try to tell you otherwise, however, most farmers are family farmers and we definitely have future generations in mind when it comes to caring for the land and water.

I imagine my Colorado peach traveled well over 500 miles to reach my door, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to purchase it.  I predict that someone who raises fruit is pretty happy have customers like me to support their livelihood.  Whether I buy a tomato at a farmer’s market or a peach from the grocery store, I’m still supporting someone who worked hard to help me feed my family.  The difference is that the presumably large peach orchard will still be there ten years from now providing a reliable supply.  A farmer’s market might contain some hobbyists whose supply is less reliable, but a great choice when its available.  I’m happy we have room for both in our food supply.

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