Eating local is becoming a trend around the country, and with good reason. Locally grown food is often tastier than its mass-market counterparts, it supports your local economy and has less impact on the environment and can even reduce your risk of food-borne illness. Here’s why:
Local Foods are Fresher and Tastier
By the time food has reached the store shelves, it has often traveled thousands of miles to reach its final destination. This can mean a week or more it has spent traveling, losing nutritional value and freshness. Food from your local farmer’s market, or even from the farm itself, has been picked as recently as the day before. This means fresher picks for you and food at its flavor peak. Ideally, produce should be eaten within a week.
Local Foods are in Season
If you typically shop the supermarket for produce, you can find most things at any time of the year. Most produce has a peak growing season in which it grows in a favorable environment and climate. For example, blueberries grow best in the summer, while the peak growing season for apples is fall to winter. For maximum taste and the most favorable price, buy in-season food.
Local Food is Better for the Environment
Food that is shipped thousands of miles from where it is grown leaves a “carbon footprint,” which is the energy used to transport or make a product. This includes fuel for delivery trucks, packaging waste and more. Local food does not have to travel far and uses less energy overall.
Eating Locally Supports Your Local Economy
Money spent at the local farmers’ market stays close to home, helping grow the local economy. And since the food is closer, more of the money spent stays with the grower rather than going to a middle person.
Whether you eat locally-grown fruits and vegetables or produce from your local supermarket, it’s most important to make fruits and vegetables the center of your diet. They contain healthy amounts of calcium, fiber, iron, folate, vitamins, potassium and more. Also, phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables contain important disease-fighting nutrients that can help protect against some cancers, heart disease and other diseases. Choose brightly colored fruits and vegetables, which indicate higher levels of important nutrients.
For more information on the benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables and ways to add more into your diet, visit www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.