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Buying fresh produce from local farmers

By Jaime McCutcheon
Published On: May 15 2013 10:33:02 PM CDT
Updated On: May 15 2013 11:10:13 PM CDT
EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA -

Farmer's markets and roadside stands are commonplace in Eastern Carolina, and perhaps you've shopped at them.  But did you know there are nutritional and economical reasons why buying from local farmers makes it a win-win?

First, local farmers are just that - local.  When you buy from them, they and their employees spend much of that money in our own communities.  Buying local is good for our local economies, but it's also good for your health.

We headed out to Garner's Farm in Newport, where farmer Clayton Garner, Jr., tells us "we've been in the produce {farming} for over 30 years, been farming for over 70 years."

The grow more than a dozen fruits and veggies on the farm right off Highway 70, and here family runs as deep as the vegetable roots.  Brandon, Clayton's step-son, runs the farm stand in James City in Craven County.  You'll often find Clayton's mother, Terri, at the farm stand in Newport.  Clayton's father, wife and other family members also work hard to run this Carteret County farm, where customers come looking for locally-grown produce.

Why the desire for local?  "I think two reasons - one is the freshness and two is the fact that we grew it.  We know what we've done what we haven't done," says Garner.

Experts say one of the biggest benefits to buying local is that you can buy produce and know it was picked just this morning.  

"Because it is fresh.  As soon as they pick that fruit or veggie, it starts to loose nutrients, so the quicker you get it to the table, the healthier it is for you," explains Colleen Bucher, a registered dietitian with Vidant Health Systems.
     
To get those maximum nutritional benefits from "just-picked" produce, you can head to the farm or places like farmer's markets.  At the one in New Bern, you can pick up fresh goods from places like Putnam Family Farms from Kinston.  Steve Putnam says his fruits and veggies have the added benefit of no pesticides.
     
Prices are typically about the same as the grocery stores.

Fresh, local, family farms - all reasons Catherine Elkins with the Carteret Local Food Network makes sure those looking for fresh and local produce can find it.

"We publish a map that identifies for readers, all the places they can participate in local food," says Elkins.

The group exists to make sure our farming families keep their roots growing here in Eastern Carolina.  "It's a source of food security to be able to have our own farmers."

To find out more about the Carteret Local Food Network, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about the New Bern Farmer's Market, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about Garner's Farm, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about Putnam Family Farms, CLICK HERE.

To find a list of local farms and you-pick farms around North Carolina, CLICK HERE and HERE.

Part three of our special report "You Are What You Eat" will focus on organic food.  You can watch that story Thursday on NewsChannel 12 at 5 p.m.