Buy Local: ASAP! - TribPapers

Buy Local: ASAP!

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Asheville – If you’ve been paying attention for the past several decades, you will know that the foods mass produced by Big Agra, although beautiful, are lacking many of the nutrients they used to have. According to National Geographic, “Mounting evidence from multiple scientific studies shows that many fruits, vegetables, and grains grown today carry less protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C than those that were grown decades ago.” In some ways, our grandparents ate better than we do, and we have the health challenges to prove it. One study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today for the same amount of vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one. The fact is, is you have food cravings, you likely aren’t getting enough nutrients.

Staff rendering.
Staff rendering.

So what can we do to actually eat healthy? Enter ASAP. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) is a nonprofit based in Asheville that drives public demand for local farm products, builds farmer capacity to access market opportunities, and creates connections within the food system. In other words, they support local farmers and sustainable farming.

Why Buying Local is Important

The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, considered the father of Western medicine, was attributed as saying, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This quote expresses the notion that the food we consume can either be a form of healing or a source of illness. When you buy local you get the freshest food, grown with care, and loaded with nutrients; they are at their peak in terms of flavor and nutritional value. More nutrients equal better health.

Buying local also helps to support the local economy and creates a sense of community. A meme recently came up on social media that stated: If you quit shopping at the grocery store, they wouldn’t notice you were gone, but if you started shopping at a farmer’s market, you’d change a farmer’s life and maybe even save the farm.

The Cost of Buying Local

Not only does buying local offer more nutritious food, it can also be cost-effective because it doesn’t have to be transported across the country; you buy direct, cutting out the cost of the middleman; you can buy in bulk; and there is less packaging. However, the highest cost savings might show up in the reduced cost of health care.

Another benefit of today’s farmer’s markets is that there is a far greater variety of products offered. You can get handcrafted skin care products, essential oils, and natural remedies. In addition, more farmers are producing a greater diversity of foods, including locally raised meats, artisan cheeses, eggs, honey, mushrooms, herbs, artisan beverages (wine, beer, cider, soda), value-added products, and more. This is reflected in the nationally recognized “farm to table” restaurant scene in Asheville that draws visitors and residents alike, adding to our economy.

Where It All Began

While people have been buying from farmer’s markets and produce stands since the beginning of time, according to ASAP’s website, the rise of the local food movement in Western North Carolina is linked with the loss of Burley tobacco as the dominant cash crop. Anticipating the devastating effects the loss of tobacco could have on small farms, a group came together in 1995 to look for community-based solutions. This group, which would become ASAP, launched the Local Food Campaign in 2000 to raise awareness about local agriculture, educate consumers about the benefits of buying local food, and create viable market alternatives for local farmers. ASAP printed the first Local Food Guide in 2000, listing 58 local farms, 32 farmers markets, 19 restaurants sourcing local ingredients, and 12 CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) programs. Today, the Local Food Guide has more than 1,200 listings.

Search For Farmers Markets By County

Go to to search by county. Currently listed for Buncombe County are: Asheville City Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, East Asheville Tailgate Market, Enka-Candler Farmer’s Market, Gladheart Farm, Leicester “Lester” Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, Southside Community Farmers Market, Weaverville Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, and the big WNC Farmers Market.

Listings for Henderson County markets are: Etowah Lions Farmers Market, Flat Rock Farmers Market, Henderson County Curb Market, Henderson County Tailgate Market, Hendersonville Farmers Market, and Mills River Farm Market.

Many farmers markets throughout the region accept SNAP and EBT. Some also offer SNAP incentive programs like Double SNAP or Double Up Food Bucks.

Maybe it’s time to eat like our grandparents and be healthier for it.