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Things are Just Ripe in Knoxville to Support Local Growers

By John Disque

Just Ripe (right here in Knoxville) is making it easy for the people in East TN to buy direct from local farmers. Today they're getting ready to expand their operation to grab a bigger piece of the community.

While some have always seen and noticed the importance of buying from local farmers not everyone has participated. Most of the cause boils down to: a lack of information available to the community and the lack of availability to the potential customer.

All of that is about to change as Just Ripe has set new fundraising goals and are doing their best to increase public awareness.

Just Ripe states on their web site:
- "Just Ripe is a fantastic, young business operated in Knoxville, TN by some smart ladies. We use the pleasures of seasonal eating to promote local food."
- "Every week at the Market Square Farmers Market we purchase the freshest products we can find to prepare foods for healthy eating."
- "We are opening a storefront in the Daylight Building in downtown Knoxville.  Just Ripe will be providing ready to eat food and groceries, meals to order, and a variety of products in our market.  Locally baked breads, seasonal produce, micro brewed beers, local meats, dairy and eggs, local roasted coffees, and a bulk foods department will meet grocery needs."
- "Our goal is to help Knoxvillians incorporate healthy and locally grown foods into their diets."

The main issue with buying food at a major grocery store is that people don't know where the food comes from; therefore, they don't know where the money is going so they take for granted that they're supporting farmers and their local store.

From farm to store, most produce and meat in grocery stores takes 4-7 days to get on the shelves with an average shipping distance of 1500 miles from the farm to the store. The truth really is - we are paying for shipping costs and usually supporting "corporate-owned farms" that have little to do with the farmers themselves. Furthermore, most corporate-owned farms pay little regard to animal abuse violations, and most are concerned with nothing more than getting their products to the shelves as fast as possible. Health and humanity are not controlling factors in their business.

Most local farmers don't use the same pesticides and chemicals that big corporate farms use.

Naturally, food is a vital part of our economy. When you buy from local farms the farmers have more money to circulate back into the local economy. If a higher demand is created, the farmer is forced to expand operations which means more farm labor, new equipment, more fuel to operate the equipment, local expansion loans, etc. The result is: more money is pumped directly into the local economy which means more local jobs.

You're not just buying a bag of fruit: Ultimately you are getting a better tasting, fresher, healthier, safer meal. Your food will have a longer shelf life while you're securing your own career and the careers of your community. You will also be recognizing and rewarding the local farmer for being a vital piece of the community.

Now - if you want to take it a step further… When you go out to eat at a local restaurant ask to speak with the owner and ask them where they buy their ingredients.

Attempt to convey the importance of buying from local farmers. If they consider it thank them and assure them that it's a guaranteed way to gain more community support for their restaurant.

If they don't want to deal with the issue, ask them why they expect the community to support them when they don't support the community.

Any way you look at it, it's the right thing to do and the Knoxville Daily Sun is simply asking you to consider it.

Published February 9, 2011

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