Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Why local?

Fresh local bread

It’s one of those phrases we hear all the time and yet if we were to dig deeper, do we know exactly why we should eat local produce? A few of the answers are more obvious – we like to support small businesses and the image of a genuine, ‘homemade’ or ‘home-grown’ product attracts us; but is there more to this? 

Why opt for local?

  1. Local foods are fresher (and taste better)
  2. Local foods are seasonal (and taste better!)
  3. Local foods usually have less environmental impact
  4. Buying local foods helps preserve green areas and farmland on our islands
  5. Local foods promote food safety
  6. You will be supporting the local economy
  7. You create a stronger community
  8. You will help to promote variety

Fruit, vegetables and meat that aren’t sourced locally have to be shipped from around the world to get to you. In the case of fruit and vegetables, these are usually picked before the peak of their flavor in order to survive the long trip (or be allowed to mature while they travel) to your local grocery store. As a result, the carbon footprint is higher.

Brussel sprouts

  It may seem like common sense, but it's one of those things many of us ignore when we're shopping. This concept doesn’t just stop at fresh produce; the processing of local raw foods into jams and preserves should be considered too.  Transporting produce sometimes requires irradiation and preservatives (such as wax) to protect the produce which is subsequently refrigerated during the trip. All of these elements will decrease the nutrient content of your fruits and vegetables.

When local farmers and live breeders experience increased demand and hence more economic support, they are encouraged to keep more types of produce and livestock.  Eating in season is also a good idea if you’re aiming to spend less money and get more nutrients; following the course of nature as seasons change will also encourage you to expand your palate and keep eating a wide variety of different foods all year round.

Traditional bread with local ingredients

The Merill Rural Network is committed to supporting farmers and to using recyclable and reusable materials for packaging, thus through buying local products we are perpetuating the reduction of our carbon footprint at the same time. The network brings together farmers and artisans to create authentic products and thanks to this opportunity many of them are able to invest further in their business. Thus this initiative helps Maltese farmers and livestock breeders to continue offering a genuine product that is the fruit of our island’s soil, nutrients, water and sun. The wheel keeps on turning and at the end of the day we will benefit from such an investment too!
Take the bambinella (Pyruscommunisvar. bambinellaL. from the family Rosaceae) for example, an indigenous fruit otherwise known as the Small Malta June Pear. This crisp mini-pear with an attractive pink/red-blushed skin grows between the months of July to September, depending on the variety and the location of the field. Since its growth and ripening depends highly on the water content and hours of sunshine per day, the fields that have darker and thus warmer soils will be more successful in ripening the fruit. The fruit may be small but it is mighty – the bambinella has a long shelf life and is thus considered a very convenient one. Besides, the fruit is delicious and sweet and very handy for carrying around as a snack.
Mario Scerri, a farmer from Dingli at Ta' Zuta Orchard.

By supporting local products and hence biodiversity we are decreasing the chance of losing such products that may be unique to our islands and we are being kind to ourselves in the process.

Would you like to know more about our Merill Local Products? Drop us a line on info@merill.com.mt

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