There are a number of grass roots movements promoting the concept of local eating. One such group is the 100 Mile Diet – Local Eating for Global Change. Eating a diet rich in local ingredients is important for a number of reasons. In fact, there are a multitude of reasons for which to consider eating local from stimulating your appetite to stimulating the economy to protecting the environment.
1. Local Food Tastes Better
In general the fresher the food the better it tastes. By eating locally you ensure that you are getting the freshest foods and especially produce possible. You might be surprised at how different even the foods you are accustomed to taste when eating locally. When eating locally you are also forced to eat in a seasonal manner because depending on the climate and time of the year different things will be available. Eating seasonally and locally will provide you with a wide assortment of foods which you may not be accustomed to as many types of produce do not ship well and are only available when shopping locally. If you are open minded in trying new items you may even find a new favorite food.
2. Local Food Is Fresher
Fresh locally grown produce also can last longer due to being fresher when you buy it. Produce that you buy at a conventional grocery store has been shipped in from all over the country and world depending on the item. Due to the time spent in the shipping process the produce you traditionally buy is already nearing the end of its shelf life. In fact, most of the produce bought in the traditional manner is picked before it reaches its peak ripeness in order to last through the shipping process. Fresh locally grown produce can be picked and delivered in such a manner that you receive it at peak ripeness and freshness.
3. Know Where Your Food Comes From
By focusing on purchasing your food in as local a manner as possible, it allows you to learn where your food comes from. It also allows you to understand the work required to bring that food to your table. Knowing your farmers allows you to build relationships in your community. Often times locally sourced foods are grown by small family owned farms that earn their livelihood through their passion. This passion then produces the highest quality product possible which benefits your health in return.
4. Local Food Stimulates Local Economy
Eating locally can also help to stimulate your local economy. By spending the money you earn locally on locally produced and sold items, you help to keep your local economy functioning in an efficient manner. Buying local products also helps to keep your local farmers in business which can help promote employment in your community.
5. Local Food Reduces Pollution
According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, “Produce in the U.S. travels, on average, 1300 – 2000 miles from farm to consumer.” By eating locally you reduce the energy consumed and pollution produced through transportation. Additionally most small family owned farms are very conscientious about the manner in which they produce their product. These farmers focus on protecting the environment and reducing pollution. They often farm in an organic manner which is healthy for both you the consumer but also the environment.
Grow Local Food
Now that you are sold on the idea of eating local, you might be wondering how to do so. There are a number of ways in which you can eat locally. Look for a local co-op to shop at. Often a co-op will offer fresh local produce along with farm fresh eggs, dairy and meats. Another option is to visit a local farmers market. Farmers markets are a great resource for fresh produce. At farmers markets you can also typically buy in bulk so that you can freeze or can fresh local produce to consume when it is not in season. When dining out look for a restaurant which focuses on fresh local ingredients, in doing so not only do you support the restaurant but also the local farmers. Additionally, you might consider starting a garden in your backyard or raising a few chickens for fresh eggs. By gardening and/or raising chickens you are eating in the most local sense possible.
Learn how you could be eating local today!
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon
National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
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