Did you know that almost all of the reasons to eat locally are positive? The ingredients are fresher so they retain their nutrients better, and the short travel distance reduces your food’s carbon footprint, making it better for the environment. All the while, you get to support local companies and keep your hard-earned money within your local community. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’s a good reason that we’ve seen a lot of growth in support-local movements over the last few years. New farmer’s markets are popping up in large cities and small towns alike, and progressive grocery store markets have become the norm.
It’s really hard to choose just a few reasons to eat locally, but we wanted to focus on the top five motivating factors. Some may say that local food is more expensive, but it’s all about creating value. When you think about the impact local food has on communities and the product you get in return, it might be worth it. Especially when you consider the improved flavor of local food!
You’ll get other benefits from eating locally, too. Regardless of the season, there is always an opportunity to visit a local farm and educate yourself or your children. Many farms also allow you to have some fun with pick-your-own programs. The hot summer months bring strawberry picking, and the crisp air of the fall is perfect for picking up apples from a nearby orchard. And, anytime that the farmer’s market is open, you can chat up your local farmer to learn about what’s in season and growing nearby.
If you’re not convinced about the reasons to eat locally, read on to learn more about our top five reasons. After you finish, we’re pretty sure you’ll want to treat your taste buds to local, fresh food!
1. Eating seasonally
Unless you own a farm in California, it’s pretty hard to grow fruits and vegetables all year round. The temperatures and level of precipitation dictate what grows best during which season. That means farmers will be flush with rhubarb, radishes, spring onions, and peas in the spring, while summer’s heat creates an abundance of zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. In the fall, the winter squashes and chicory lettuces are ready to eat and storage crops like onions, carrots, and parsnips are harvested for the wintertime.
When you buy seasonal produce from local farms, you’re inviting a new type of genetic diversity into your diet. Instead of eating the same three types of tomatoes 12-months a year, you’ll experience heirloom varieties of vegetables. It also encourages you to preserve foods for later months, creating probiotic-rich foods. This diet has enumerable benefits on your gut and digestion, letting your body rest and reset each season.
Seasonal eating is also beneficial for your wallet – since it’s cheaper for farmers to grow crops when they’re in season, they’re able to sell them for less money, too. Everyone who has bought an avocado out-of-season knows how expensive that can get!
2. Safer food and environment
One of the best reasons to eat locally is to reduce the carbon footprint of your food. Local farmers’ food doesn’t have to travel nearly as far as the food you’d buy from the grocery store. Transporting fruits and vegetables requires a lot of fuel, which is contributing to global warming. When you compare the average piece of food (which travels 1,500 miles to reach grocery stores) as compared to local food (which travels fewer than 100 miles), it becomes easy to make a more responsible choice.
It’s not just about harming the environment, either. Grocery store foods have a greater chance of becoming contaminated than foods sold locally. That’s because food is more likely to become exposed to parasites, viruses, and bacteria as more people handle it. In addition, seasonal, local foods don’t require any preservatives either, which means you’ll consume fewer toxins while also getting more nutrients (we’ll talk about that one next!).
3. More nutrients
It’s easy to eat the same foods all year long when you buy produce from a grocery store. These foods may not be in-season and their nutrient value may expire as they sit on the shelf. On the other hand, when you eat local foods, you’re consuming super-fresh, seasonal ingredients with a wider variety of vitamins and minerals. These seasonal nutrients are especially beneficial when it comes to immunity, fueling your body with the nutrients you need to prevent sickness.
Local food also has the opportunity to ripen on the vine. Food that is transported hundreds of miles by truck is often picked green and allowed to ripen during the journey. Some of these foods are even ripened with the assistance of chemicals. The local food will develop more nutrients as it ripens naturally and you’ll benefit from all those extra vitamins and minerals.
4. Better Flavor
Bottom line: out-of-season foods just don’t taste as good. In fact, they’re often rather taste-less! Local food is always in season, it’s allowed to ripen naturally, and as a result it develops a ton of flavor. Not only that, but because it was picked recently, it has a decreased chance of drying out before you eat it. The result is vibrant, beautiful produce that just bursts with flavor.
If you’ve ever visited a local farm, you know what I mean! The difference between a radish plucked right out of the ground and one that’s been sitting on the grocery shelves for a few weeks is hard to explain. If you’re trying to convince a friend or family member to try a fruit or vegetable, having them try it in-season is the way to do it. They’ll surely be able to taste the difference.
5. Promotes Community
Local farmers wouldn’t be able to grow delicious, seasonal foods without the support of their community. By buying from local farmers, you’ll keep your money within the local community. You buy produce from a farmer who in-turn has money to buy a tractor from a local distributor. Keeping these farmers in business also preserves green space in your community, which in turn benefits the environment. It’s all connected!
Now that you’re aware of all of the positive effects of eating locally, go visit your local farmers market and find out what fruits and veggies are in season. Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) so you can whip up some delicious meals and treats! During apple season, fresh apples could be used to make our Slow Cooker Apple Crisp. When blueberry season rolls around, you can make our Blueberry Breakfast Cookies. Oh, and let’s not forget about tomato-season! Be sure to grab some from your local market and make our Pizza Stuffed Tomatoes.
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