Members of the Ames community gather outside of North Grand Mall July 18 for the Wednesday farmer's market. Booths sold everything from flowers and organic produce to honey and beeswax.

The Local Food Festival: An Adventure in Eating is the annual food festival located between Curtiss and Beardshear on Central Campus. This year’s festival takes place Wednesday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. During that time, students can connect with local businesses and farmers, learn about the importance of eating locally, try food samples and learn more about the role of local food and produce on Iowa State’s campus and in the Ames community.

The festival is a great place to start if you are looking to start buying produce more locally. In addition to the festival, farmers markets in Ames and Des Moines are also great places to connect with farmers and local business owners. Even if you just go to browse, you will probably end up going home with some fresh fruit or vegetables in your bag. At these markets you get to meet face-to-face with the people who helped produce your food, which is an opportunity that does not come up very often. The festival Wednesday is also an opportunity to make connections this way, and you might even find a new favorite local company or business.

One of the many benefits of eating locally is that you are supporting local farmers. Helping local farmers not only helps grow their businesses, but improves the local economy as well. It’s nice to be able to see where you money is going, rather than sending it off to a larger overseas corporation. Not to mention that eating locally contributes to improving our carbon footprint due to it not having to be transported as far just to arrive to your nearest grocery store.

Another benefit of local produce is its quality, as it tends to be fresher and has higher nutrient values. So not only are you eating smarter, but you are eating healthier. Because of the freshness, local food often tastes better, which is another added bonus. 

A common drawback when it comes to eating locally is sometimes the price. But when you think about the work, time and effort that goes into the production of the produce, it is definitely worth it. 

Instead of going to Walmart next time you are stocking up on groceries, take a trip to a local farmer’s market, and put your money back into the community. You are also bettering yourself by eating fresher, healthier produce.

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