The Benefits of Eating Local Food
There is movement across the country for us to eat food grown locally in our own communities. Are you wondering why? There are many benefits to eating local food both for your own personal health and the health of our communities. Let’s look at some of these benefits so you’ll have a better understanding and be able to make informed decisions about the foods you eat.
Benefits to You and Your Family’s Health:
• Locally grown foods are often picked just hours before they arrive at the farmers markets or store shelves. This ensures that you are getting maximum nutrition from your food. The longer the time from farm to table, the longer the food has to lose its nutritional value. Again food is going to be at its peak nutritionally, most abundant and also less expensive for your pocketbook.
• Eating locally is a wonderful way to be exposed to new foods and different varieties of foods. You will often see heirloom varieties of produce which is a wonderful way to expand your food horizons and also protect the continuation of these tried and true varieties in our food system.tritional value. The food is also able to be picked at its ripest which also adds to the nutritional value. It tastes better too!
• When you buy directly from the farmer, say at a farmers market, you have the opportunity to get to know the farmer and his/her family. You also are able to discuss with them how they grow their food and what they use to nourish the soil and also whether they use natural or chemical fertilizers and pest control.
• Local food reduces the chances of contamination. The longer the time from farm to your kitchen increases the likelihood of bacterial contamination.
• Buying your food locally allows for seasonal eating.
Benefits to our Environment and Local Economy and Community:
• Reduction of transportation expenses and pollution created by transportation from long distances.
• You are supporting your local economy! Local farmers supply jobs to your neighbors and spend their income locally. Your money is much more likely to stay right in your own community.
• Buying locally creates community. One of my favorite past-times is visiting my local farmers market on Saturday mornings. It is a wonderful way to meet the growers and new friends and run into old friends. It makes me feel more connected to my food and where its coming from.
• Supporting local farmers protects land and encourages responsible land development in your community.
Finding Local Farmers Markets
There are many opportunities to buy from locally producing farmers. Read your newspaper or look on local Facebook pages to seek out these options.
There are also local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) that you can join where you are able to buy a share of food each week or month so that you have a regular supply of fresh local food coming your way.
Visit http://www.localharvest.org to learn about markets and CSAs in the your area.
Tips for Shopping for Local Foods:
• Get comfortable with asking the growers how they produce their foods. Are they using organic farming methods? What type feed do they use for their animals? Are they using genetically modified seeds? Most growers are very open and proud to share the way they produce their food.
• If you have food sensitivities, remember to ask about how prepared foods are handled and also make sure the foods are labeled with all ingredients. I’m afraid I learned this lesson the hard way by purchasing pre-made sausage and asking about the ingredients. I got home and realized that it contained MSG which is a sensitivity for my whole family.
• Think seasonally when you are shopping. If you find foods that are not in season in your area, then they are not likely locally grown foods. Again, ask questions!
• I like to take a walk through the farmers market when I first arrive and see all my options and see who has the best of each item at the best price that I intend to buy. Then I go back through and make my purchases. This way I know I’m getting the best of the day’s selections and I don’t miss out on anything!
Go Shop Local Food
Now go find your local farmers market and let me know what you find! Even better share some pictures of your finds with me. I love seeing what’s available in different areas. Happy shopping!
Check out my recipes so you’ll have some ideas what to buy before you go shopping.
Thank you to the Stanly County Farmers Market for allowing me to use their pictures. Find them @ www.facebook.com/stanlycountyfm. One of my favorite local markets close to my home!