Do you know where the food you eat comes from? Shouldn’t you know? Is buying organic food all you need to do to ensure your food is more responsibly grown and better for you? Buying organic food is great, you should definitely continue doing that! But there is more to it than just how your food is grown. Where your food is grown is actually even more important. The healthiest, most environmentally friendly combination is to buy organic, locally grown foods.
When it comes to living healthy, one of the most important things I can tell you is to always buy organic, non-GMO foods. This is fairly common advice seen on numerous blogs and websites, and for good reason. Buying and eating organic food is the healthier lifestyle choice. However, choosing organic foods is actually only half of the equation. The other essential step to follow is to buy locally grown foods as much as possible. Now depending on where you live, not everything you normally eat is grown locally. That’s okay! The key is to find out what foods are grown locally in your area, and then try your best to buy those foods from local sources such as farmer’s markets.
How do you find out what is grown locally in your area? One resource is the Seasonal Food Guide, an easy way to find out not only what foods are grown locally, but also when they are in season. Another option is to visit your local farmer’s market and see what foods are offered from local providers. There are many reasons why locally grown foods are better to buy and eat compared to the non-local variety. I have compiled a list of some of the more important ones to help you understand the benefits you can reap when you choose to buy and eat locally grown foods.
Locally Grown Foods Retain More Nutrients & Are Better For You
The moment food is harvested, the nutrients in that food begin to diminish. Local foods spend considerably less time in transit than compared to non-local foods which can be transported for thousands of miles to various markets. What this means is that local foods can be harvested as close to the full ripening period as possible, whereas non-local foods have to be harvested earlier. And because they are harvested earlier, they are not given enough time to fully develop and so the nutrition in these foods is stunted compared to locally grown foods. Not only that, but during the entire process of transporting the food and having it sit on store shelves, it is losing nutrients. Buying locally grown is as fresh as you can get short of growing it yourself. So not only are there more nutrients, but those nutrients in locally grown foods are also better for you, as explained by Dr. Josh Axe in his book Eat Dirt:
“The microbes in your local soil will help you better digest the foods grown in it, while also training your immune system to have a more customized response to the pathogens in your surrounding area.”
Buying Local Foods Is Better For The Environment
Food shipped from hundreds or thousands of miles away has a much larger carbon footprint than locally grown foods. As Dr. Axe notes, “When the US Senate launched an investigation into the decreasing quality of our soil, this is what it reported: “The alarming fact is that foods – fruits, vegetables, and grains – now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain needed nutrients, are starving us – no matter how much we eat of them.” That report was published in 1936.” Large scale agriculture by profit-driven companies has definitely had a detrimental effect on the soil. “The difference is so dramatic that we would have to eat eight oranges to get the same amount of vitamin C as our grandparents got from eating just one.” Says Dr. Axe. Long voyages on trucks, ships and airplanes means a lot of oil is used just to bring non-local food to far off markets. Locally grown and sold foods require much less time and resources in the transition from farm to market, and so their impact on the environment is less damaging. Eating and supporting locally grown foods is a major way in which everyone can help the environment.
Buying Local Foods Promotes Food Safety
The less time food spends between the farm and your dinner table the less chance of contamination. Also food delivery trucks have pesticides and other pest control solutions applied to them to keep bugs and animals away from the food during transport, even with organic foods. By buying locally grown foods you also have greater knowledge of where your food comes from and how it is grown. With non-local foods from large corporations, it is not immediately apparent where the food you buy comes from.
Eating Locally Grown Foods Is Eating Seasonally
Some people may be used to the idea of always being able to buy any kind of food any time of year, but that’s not how local foods work. Some foods are only in season for a specific time, and sticking with the seasonal schedule in your area ensures that the food you’re eating is at its most ripe. Are you interested in finding out about the seasonal foods in your area? The Seasonal Food Guide website is an awesome resource to find out not only what foods are grown in your state, but also when those foods are in season!
Buying Local Foods Builds Communities
When you buy foods from your local farmers’ markets, you will inevitably get to know the people who are growing the food you buy and eat. This fosters a sense of community, builds relationships and puts a name (and face!) to the supplier of the food you buy.
Buying Local Foods Supports Your Local Economy
When you buy foods from locally sourced farmers, you are putting your hard earned money into your local economy. However, buying from a supermarket chain or large corporation means most of your money goes to the corporation instead of your local economy. Supporting your local economy is important work that benefits the people who live in the area, which includes you!