This Summer: Grow your own, buy from your neighbor

Across the CWRUniverse

We all know what’s in the coming months. No classes, warm weather, good tans and lots of summer food classics. Now some of you may be thinking ice cream, but for me summer is a time for gardens to grow and for veggies to be consumed. As a kid from Southern Ohio, no summer was ever complete without a vegetable garden in my backyard. These upcoming months, I encourage you to utilize the resources across the “CWRUniverse” and indulge in some local produce.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? No worries. Cleveland is a mecca for wonderful local produce that shines in the summer months. A simple Google search yields results of farmers markets, produce-based festivals and volunteering opportunities in the world of green agriculture. This city is home to the famous West Side Market, where tons of producers come to showcase their products. Cleveland also has a number of farmers markets and community gardens such as the North Union Farmers Market, one of my personal favorites. These markets and gardens have a variety of different locations. Not to mention, our campus also has the CWRU garden and University Farm, which are great resources to learn more.

Not staying in Tribe Town for the summer? No problem. The local farm movement is spreading all over the country. Most cities, small or large, have farmers markets and local shows at least once a week where residents can get a dose of amazing summer produce.

But why? Why make the effort to find a specialty market? It’s simple. When you buy from local growers, you are directly investing in your own community. You are quite literally helping the people around you grow and helping yourself as well. Local produce has a much lower degree of chemicals, pesticides and overall sketchy-ness. Also, quite frankly, it tastes better than the beat-up veggies at the grocery store.
Creating a relationship with those who grow your food, talking with those who are passionate about creating a positive world, changes the way you eat.

Our generation has become so accustomed to grabbing food on the go or reaching for whatever is easiest, we have lost sight of the understanding that it all has to come from somewhere. Each morsel is an intentional use of land and resources and is produced with the goal of making things better. These positive contributions not only lead to economic sustainability and better health, but to an overall more positive community and world we live in.

When you bite into a tomato that was picked hours before it isn’t just food, it is an an experience and trust me, those frozen and thawed ones on the shelves are never going to taste the same.

But hey, not everyone is a veg-head like me. I just mean that should find a local market to do your shopping. Vendors also sell body care products, essential oils, tasty sweet snacks and a ton more. Most have samples for tasting and entertainment and information about the area. If you’re looking for a way to explore Cleveland this summer, start here.

I can personally attest to not only the wonderful impact you are making on your own health, but to the local economy and to your neighbors and the environment. So whether you’re here in Cleveland for the summer or back home with the fam, make the effort to buy local. You won’t regret it.

Kassie Stewart is a junior political science major. Self-described as Amy Poehler and Joe Walsh’s love child, her mantra is “no day but today.” She enjoys napping, sarcasm and peanut butter.