03 Aug 10 Major Benefits of Eating Local Food
Nearly half of American consumers are aware of the term “buying local”, but that doesn’t mean everyone knows what the benefits are. Why should we purchase produce from a nearby farmer’s market when we can get everything we want year-round in the supermarket?
There are actually many reasons to buy locally grown and raised food that can make you a convert. Here are ten major benefits of eating local food that you may not have known about.
1. It Contains Less or No Pesticides
Unless you’re buying organic, chances are the produce you buy at the supermarket was doused with pesticide at some point along the growing or harvesting process. While buying locally grown produce is no guarantee it isn’t coated with pesticides, it may still be a safer choice than supermarket fruits and vegetables.
That’s because many of the produce selections found in the grocery store were grown in other parts of the country or the world where different pests are more common. If you’re unsure whether the local food you’re buying is organic, you can always speak to the farm staff to learn how the food was grown.
2. It Tastes Better
Local farmers produce crops according to the seasons. When you buy a locally grown tomato it’s going to be naturally ripe and tastier compared to tomatoes found year-round at the supermarket. Those tomatoes are usually forced to ripen using ethanol gas.
What could be better than biting into a sweet, juicy peach that was grown during the summer versus ones that show up in the early spring in stores? Seasonal food simply tastes better.
3. It’s More Nutritious
Did you know that locally grown fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins and nutrients than their off-season supermarket counterparts? In as little as 24 hours, produce starts to lose its nutritional value.
That’s because it takes much less time for these foods to make their way to your kitchen. Once produce sits around in transit, it begins to lose valuable nutrients.
That’s why the process of delivering locally grown food is often referred to as farm to table, because there are no additional stops on its way to you. Many restaurants offer farm to table dining experiences using only locally grown and raised foods in their dishes.
4. It Supports Local Businesses
Farming is a tough industry to make a profit in, and small farms are no exception. By buying locally, you are not only helping to support local farmers, but you’re contributing to the local economy as well.
You’re also helping restaurants, catering companies, and other businesses that rely on locally grown products as well.
5. It’s Safer to Eat
Produce that comes from far away changes a lot of hands and facilities on its way to the supermarket. This means it can come into contact with bacteria, gases, chemicals, and other contaminants that can make you and your family sick.
Local food tends to be cleaner. It isn’t processed nearly as much as the food that comes from out of state. There’s less chance of cross-contamination.
6. You’ll Learn More About How the Food Was Grown
Supermarket food is one big guessing game as to how it was grown or raised. When you buy locally grown food, you’ll often come into contact with farm employees that can answer questions for you. They should be able to tell you if the crops are organic and if not, what they use for pest control.
Local food market production is often much more transparent than the food found in your grocery store.
7. It’s Better For the Environment
With less transport and processing involved, buying local food is better for the environment. Local food usually travels less than 100 miles while the average piece of supermarket produce logs around 1,500 miles.
Less fuel used to transport food means fewer gas emissions and less pollution.
8. It Creates Community Connections
Visit a local farm or farmer’s market regularly, and you’ll get to know the farmers and employees. This kind of connection can’t be found in a store’s produce section. With so much of the world being sheltered, visiting your local farmer’s market and chatting with the staff and other customers can just make you feel good.
You’re also supporting your community in this way, and you’re likely to be introduced to other local food products and artisans when you purchase local food.
9. It Offers Great Variety
Buying local food isn’t limited to just seasonal produce. You can usually find local dairy products, meat, wine, and honey year-round. Explore what’s in your area or even your state (or a neighboring one) and you may be delighted by the food treasures you find!
During some times of the year, local food may even replace most of the items on your grocery store list.
10. It’s Often a Good Buy
Buying local food doesn’t necessarily mean paying more. If you buy produce in season, you should find the prices on par with what your supermarket charges. And some food items such as eggs and cheese are good values year-round.
Besides, isn’t paying a few cents more worth it when you know the food is healthier for you and tastes better? You also always have the option of freezing some locally grown food so they’re available to you during off-seasons.
Remember These Benefits of Eating Local Food
Now that you know more about the benefits of eating local food, what are you waiting for? Do a search for local farms or farmer’s markets near you and explore what’s in season.
Don’t know what to do with some of that local food you’ve bought? Check out our recipe archives for some inspiration!