The Benefits of Eating Locally
The advantages of eating locally are many. I'll touch on a few here:
- Food Miles - Did you know that most food travels an average of 1500 miles from where it is grown to our plates? I recently visited my mother-in-law in central California where avocados, one of my favorite foods, is available locally-produced, year-round. Yet, if you shop in the big-box grocery store right there in near her house, the avocados are labeled "product of Mexico." That just seems ridiculous to me. And with food prices soaring because the of the unstable price of gas, wouldn't it be nice to introduce a little sanity to our diets. Want to help decrease our dependence on oil? Eat local!
- Knowledge is Power - The current infrastructure of the food system is so vast and complicated there's no way to know where your food originates. Think about the Summer 2008 tomato scare. How many months did it take the government to narrow down the source of those tomatoes? Too long, and even then, is anyone really sure? Knowledge is power. When we buy local produce, we have the opportunity to speak face-to-face with the farmers growing our food, we can encourage organic farming practices, and in many cases even visit the very farms that nourish us. Want to know where your food originates? Eat local!
- Tastes Better and It's Better for You - Food grown on small, local farms reaches your table faster, which means it was picked at its peak (often the day you purchase it). This means that not only does it taste better, but it's still packed full of nutrients, so it's better for you too! Want high quality, nutritionally dense food that tastes great too? Eat local!
- Better for the Environment - Small local farms generally practice crops rotation (nutritionally diverse plants occupy the same growing space in different seasons - tomatoes in summer, perhaps peas in winter)which creates a more rich, nutrient-dense soil. And those same small, local farms, generally follow more organic farming practices than larger corporate farms. That means less chemical pesticides and fertilizers in our soil, in our water, and in our bodies. Looking for a cleaner, healthier environment? Eat local!
- Better for the Community - A number of research studes have shown that of every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 comes back into the community. That's compared to only a $14 return when we shop at a big-box store. With the economy in a slump, we're all holding on to our pocketbooks just a little bit tighter. It couldn't be a better time to support our local farmers and businesses, our friends and family, and our community by buying local (and don't forget, it's better for our bodies too)! Want a heathy and vibrant community? Eat local!
So what are we waiting for? Local is the certainly the way to go. It's better for our bodies; it's better for our environment; and it's better for our communities.
Interested in eating local? Find out where to start in "A How To Guide to Eating Locally." In the meantime, happy (and mindful) Eating!