You want to eat healthy, you want to eat local and you want to be part of a sustainable present and future. You also like the idea of good tasting food that supermarkets can’t help but fall short of. Simple enough on all counts – just hit the farmers market on Saturday afternoon. Of course, if it rains, something comes up or you just oversleep, simple will never be as easy as mouse clicking for locally grown food with Maryanne Hedrick and her website, My Personal Farmers.
With about 400 regular and semi-regular customers, Ms. Hendrick enables individuals and
Occupying 20% of the acreage above New York City to Albany, small farmers are still a large part of the New York State economy. That may be news to many of us here – as it was to this one time food marketing professional, but after moving to Peekskill a few years ago from Hoboken, she says, “I was just blown away with the quality of the food at the farmers markets.”
She also recognized the limited access that we have to this great tasting food, which comes minus the long, preservative laden trip across the country. “I wanted to create a business to address that distribution issue and so it seemed to me that the internet provided the broadest possible access,” she says.
Encompassed in her objective is the inclination to help these small farmers survive the onslaught of agribusiness. With a distribution system that literally reaches around the world and puts food on the shelves at our Supermarkets, the small farmers are in real danger of falling through the cracks forever. “The massiveness of the business model has given small farmers a hard time,” she says.
In addition, small family farms – without shareholders – have something in mind other than just the bottom line figures that drive the big business model. “These are the people who are the best stewards of the land possible,” she says.
That would seem to act in accordance with providing healthy food to those that seek it. On the other hand, organically grown food that also goes a good distance (through the larger chains) can lose something to the mileage it piles up along the way to your door. “It loses nutritional value – even though it’s been harvested and raised in very proper ways,” she says.
But organic and local do not need to be synonymous, and pragmatically for our area and climate, shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. All of our farmers raise the crops with organic principles, she says, “but there’s a system called low spray that really tries to use preventive measures to keep bugs away.”
In turn, her advice on navigating one’s way through the semantics of healthy eating follows in line with an understanding of the labels. “It has to be organic or I’m not buying it. That’s not a realistic way to go about it,” she says.
The higher cost, though, of locally grown food is certainly not something most of us need to be educated on. Her advice would be along the lines of not throwing the baby out with the store bought bottled water. “What I tell people is take it one step at a time – just buy vegetables locally or just pickup fruit locally. You don’t have to change everything.”
Then it’s just a matter of keeping a cooler out for home delivery. All people have to do is be aware of the time frame. If they order by 10AM on Monday, it’s delivered Friday or Saturday of the same week, she says.
My Personal Farmers, though, do not close it down for the winter. Ample grass for grazing means healthy cows – and meat, diary and cheese that returns the favor – but the warm weather that’s about to enter always has her clients clamoring for the produce that they really crave. “When is it going to start, I can’t wait,” she says is their cry, “and that’s music to my ears,” she concludes.