Chico, California is surrounded by farmland. Just driving in you'll find yourself immersed in acres of orchards and seemingly endless rice fields. Look further, there's small organic farms, family gardens and CSAs. In every direction our land is plenty and local farms have been providing the area with a plethora of food. But with todays technology we can get food from thousands of miles away or from around the globe. With so many options available we need to remember why it's important to eat local food.
Top 5 Reasons To Eat Local Food
Local food is commonly considered to be grown within 100 miles of where it's consumed, but living in Chico we're lucky, we can cut those miles in half. This comes with many benefits, but here are our top 5 reasons to eat local food.
"Summer Season" A table of locally grown bell peppers for one dollar each at the market in the Summer. Photo by Upper Park.
1. Fresher and Healthier Produce
Local farms provide fresher produce since the food doesn't have to travel long distances. This can result in higher nutritional value, better taste and bigger portions.
2. Environmental Impact
Local farms reduce pollution by slashing transport miles, overall helping promote more sustainable agricultural practices. Smaller farms tend to use natural soil supplements and less toxic chemicals that can harm the environment. They also usually use less plastic packaging necessary for retail and often recycle their packaging reducing single use waste.
"Mushroom Adventures" Bowls of mushrooms for sale from the Mushroom Adventures booth at the Saturday Morning Farmers Market. Photo by Upper Park.
3. Economic Boost to Local Communities
By purchasing from local farms, you contribute to the local economy. This helps create jobs, supports small businesses, and strengthens the economic resilience by circulating dollars throughout the community.
4. Preservation of Farmland and Biodiversity
Supporting local farms can contribute to the preservation of farmland, preventing it from being converted into urban developments. Additionally, local farmers often use diverse and sustainable farming practices, promoting biodiversity and healthier ecosystems.
"Saturday Farmers Market in Chico, CA" A picture of the downtown market during the fall. Photo by Upper Park.
5. Connection with the Food Source
Buying from local farms can foster a stronger connection between consumers and their food sources. Knowing where your food comes from and how it is produced can lead to increased awareness about farming practices and food systems.
These reasons highlight the positive impacts that supporting local farms can have on health, the environment, local economies, and the overall community.
"Green Leaf Lettuce Comparison" Showing a head of green leaf lettuce purchased from the Farmers Market and comparing it to one purchased from the store. Photo by Upper Park
Farmers Markets Vs Conventional Grocery Stores
Eating healthy and/or eating organic is often associated with being expensive. But we're here to say otherwise (in the Northern California area). Now more than ever we are seeing smaller portions in the conventional grocery stores at the same prices as before. If you shop at the farmers market, for many items, you can get up to 50% more produce for nearly the same price as the store. The above image is just one example of how a head of green leaf lettuce from @Farmalot Farms is more than twice the size of an organic head from the store.
A Few of our Favorite Farms
We’re surrounded by farms so we’ve most definitely missed a few names, but here’s a short list of our favorites, in no particular order, that consistently grow delicious food year round and are available at the Farmers Markets.
- Comanche Creek Farms
- Saeturn Farms
- Wookey Ranch
- Pyramid Farms
- Bradley Grass Fed Beef
- Divide Ranch
- Turkey Tail
- Lor's Produce
- Ha Lee Moua
Lor's Produce - Butte County. Year round quality with some amazing deals, Lor's is a must for produce.
Finding the Time
Let's face it, we all have busy lives and it seems like time is always against us. But allocating time to eat healthy is a fundamental investment in our well-being. Choosing nutritious foods provides essential fuel for our bodies, sustaining energy levels and mental clarity throughout busy days.
While it's great to save grocery shopping for the weekends, the Farmers Markets don't always line up with our schedules, making conventional grocery shopping a necessity. Fortunately, there are a lot of farmers that supply goods to our grocery stores. Below are some stores that carry locally grown food and please let us know if we've missed any!
S and S Produce Organic section featuring Comanche Creek Farms. Photo by Upper Park.
Chico Natural Foods Co-op
818 Main St, Chico, CA 95928
New Earth Market
864 East Avenue
1924 Mangrove Ave, Chico, CA 95926
Dish (left): "Malaysian Prawns" at Drunken Dumpling. Graphic (right): "Mo Fiah Wet Noodle Wednesday" graphic shirt design by Upper Park.
Welcome to Flavortown
Another way to eat local food is to support restaurants that purchase directly from local farms. Below are just a few of the Chico restaurants that serve locally grown food. Each of these restaurants transforms seasonal ingredients into complex dishes.
Grana Wood Fired Foods
198 E 2nd St, Chico, CA 95928
“As a locally owned and operated restaurant, Grana not only recognizes the responsibility we have towards the sustainability of our community, but is also enlivened by the tremendous opportunity to bring to town such a unique dining experience.” @granachico
1414 Park Ave, Chico, CA 95928
“We are proud to be a part of the slow food movement, emphasizing quality over quantity. Our food is handmade, locally sourced and prepared fresh to order. We serve Asian Tapas-style food to encourage sharing and create an interactive dining experience. For us, food is about bringing our community together.” @drunkendumplingchico
Farm Star Pizza
2359 Esplanade, Chico, CA 95926
“Introducing the ultimate in guilt-free indulgence – our organic pizza! Packed with wholesome, fresh ingredients sourced from local suppliers, this is the perfect choice for health-conscious foodies who refuse to compromise on taste.” @farmstarpizza
Chico’s Saturday Farmers Market
Every Saturday morning, rain or shine, the Farmers Market is bustling full of local vendors, produce and food. This is Chico's premier local market. You'll find the freshest and highest quality food the area has to offer with seasonal selections year round. If possible, try to save your grocery shopping for Saturday morning to stock your kitchen with local food.
Don’t forget your bag. We know it’s easy to, but they are a shopping essential. Need a new one? We have a huge variety of tote bags that work great shopping. If you’re downtown, stop by the Upper Park store, just down the way from the Farmers Market at 122 W 3rd Street and take a look at our selection.
We're Eating Good
We hope this article helps you consider purchasing even just a little bit of locally grown food. There's no doubt that when living in Chico we have access to a lot of food and it's incredibly easy for us to take it for granted. Either way this food won't go to waste and as a community, we're eating good.