Nutrition

The 7 great benefits of local food

If you’ve ever stopped by your local neighborhood market, the generous bunches of kale, locally made cheeses, seasonal fruits and freshly baked bread are all results of a local food economy. Eating local means enjoying more locally grown produce and other foods from farmers and producers in your area. Eating local foods has many benefits, including environmental, economic, social and health benefits.

Here are 7 fantastic benefits of local food.

1. Local foods are very fresh

Foods that are grown or produced in your region are not imported from distant regions or countries like many supermarket items. This means local foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are often extremely fresh and taste better than non-local produce. If you’ve ever tasted a perfectly ripe tomato or a case of strawberries from your farmers market, you know what it’s all about.

Local produce sold at farmers’ markets can be picked or harvested a day or two before the market, or in the morning itself. Therefore, some fruits and vegetables may stay in the field to ripen longer or have more favorable growing conditions than if they had to go to the grocery store. Depending on the type of product, they can be sweeter, juicier and tastier.

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Most chefs and cooks agree that the freshest ingredients make for the tastiest dishes. Of course, using fresh, local foods isn’t the only way to cook enjoyable meals, but it sure is a treat for your taste buds.

2. Local foods are often more nutritious

Fruits and vegetables can lose some of their nutrients during transportation and processing or while sitting on grocery store shelves. Vitamin C, an important water-soluble nutrient needed for healthy skin and tissues, begins to break down in fresh fruits and vegetables soon after harvest. In addition, the antioxidant content of some products decreases during storage. Getting antioxidants from food is important for fighting reactive molecules called free radicals that contribute to disease.

Since locally grown produce generally does not have to travel great distances or be stored for long periods of time, it retains more nutrients.

3. Eating local is an opportunity to try new foods

If you shop at farmers’ markets or local food co-ops, you’ll likely discover a new or unique food grown in your area. Discovering these products is a great way to learn more about the food history and farming practices of your community. You might even discover a new favorite food or ingredient.

4 Supporting local farmers and food suppliers is good for the environment: Less pollution and a lower carbon footprint

Local foods travel a shorter distance to markets and stores than products from other regions. Thus, their transport generally contributes to less pollution and carbon emissions than food which requires longer journeys. Some local foods may come from a farmer or vendor just down your street, while other local products may be grown 100 miles away. However, it is still much closer than a farm located thousands of kilometers away or in another country.

5 Less waste and plastic packaging

Many local foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are sold unpackaged at farm stands. Additionally, you can bring your own reusable bags to carry the products home. This equates to less waste, including packaging and plastic bags. In addition, local products do not need to be processed, which preserves food but contributes to the production of waste. Finally, supporting local farmers helps preserve green spaces and farmland in your area. Local operations that use sustainable practices can promote biodiversity, protect pollinators that are essential to healthy ecosystems, and promote clean air, water and soil.

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5. Eating local supports your local economy

When you buy local food, your money is likely to continue flowing through the local economy. Some studies suggest that local foods have a multiplier effect, meaning they help increase employment and income in your area, among other positive effects. For the same reason a stimulus package boosts the national economy, spending money in your area can boost the local economy. Local businesses not only provide jobs for community members, but their owners and employees are also more likely to reinvest their earnings into other local stores and institutions, further strengthening the local economy.

6. By eating local, you learn how your food is grown

One of the major aspects of buying local food is connecting with farms and food producers. Building relationships with those who grow your food is a great way to build a bond with the grower. At the same time, you can ask questions and learn about farming practices. These relationships can help you enjoy your food better.

7. Eating local is remarkably easy

If you want to eat more local produce, you’ll be happy to know that it’s easy to do.

Here are some of the best ways to start eating local:

– Go to your local farmers market.
– Become a member of a local food cooperative.
– Dine in restaurants in your area where farm products are eaten. Ask beforehand the origin of the products by reserving your table.
– Browse the produce aisle to see if they identify local foods. Some may add labels to local products.

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Eating local isn’t just good for your health and good for local farmers. It also has a host of effects

[HighProtein-Foods.com]

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