By Kat Osorio
Now that we’ve entered the spring season, you might be wondering if it’s time to start adding some seasonal produce into your diet. The answer is yes! The best way to do it is by buying and eating locally-grown and produced food, which has a variety of benefits that include the following:
- Locally-grown fruits and veggies simply taste better because they’re picked at their peak and sold close to the time of harvest. When produce is shipped a long way, it has to be picked early before it’s allowed to ripen naturally, often resulting in a lackluster taste and texture.
- It supports your local economy. It’s simple- buying your food from a farmers market, CSA, or straight from the farm or local business itself brings revenue to your community.
- It benefits the environment. Shipping distances are far shorter, resulting in decreased levels of emissions. In addition, small farmers often use sustainable farming practices and support biodiversity. Livestock farmers raise fewer animals, often rotating them around pastures to minimize impact.
- It builds community in that you can form relationships with the people who are involved. Next time you visit the farmers market, ask your vendors some questions about how their produce is grown- I’m sure they’ll be eager to chat!
- It ensures a higher likelihood of food safety because the food is passed into fewer sets of hands and there’s a smaller potential for contamination.
- Because locally-grown fruits and veggies are picked and sold within a relatively short timeframe, they retain more of their nutrients. Produce that has to travel a far distance ends up sitting around which gives the enzymes in the food more time to eat up the vitamins and minerals present.
- Many cultures around the world, including the indigenous cultures here in the U.S., have traditions of sourcing food locally as a way to honor the land and its resources. Pay homage to these cultures by adopting this practice yourself; it’s a great way to learn more about your area’s culinary history.
And choosing locally-produced foods doesn’t just have to apply to home; it gives you a chance to try local specialties wherever you go. Stay tuned for the coming series on how to eat well, no matter where you are!
Dunning, R. (August 2013). Research-based support and extension outreach for local food systems. Center for Environmental Farming Systems. https://cefs.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/research-based-support-for-local-food-systems.pdf
Klavinski, R. (2013, April 13). 7 benefits of eating local foods. Michigan State University Extension. https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods