Today there are many options to eat local and to support our local farmers. We are all becoming more and more aware of the benefits of eating food closer to home. For starters, supporting our local farmers helps to support our local economy. Additionally, eating local offers us more nutrition overall.
The moment a fruit or vegetable is picked; it begins to lose its nutritional value. Think about the time it takes for a farmer across the country to pick a fruit or vegetable, package it, place it on a truck, it arrives at your grocery store only to sit on a shelf or in a basket for another couple days, then we pick it, bring it home and then maybe it sits on our counter for another couple days or week. By now, we have lost a lot of the nutritional value.
Eating local also forces us to eat what is in season. Eating in season is not only the best time to eat that crop, but it is also cheaper. There are a lot of ways in which we can support local farms and a lot of resources as well. The summertime is a great way to eat in season and eat local. While there are many reasons to support local, below are a few reasons why and how you can support local farmers.
Why Support Local
Buying local supports the local economy
When we support our local farmers, we contribute to our local economy. Shop local farmer’s markets weekly to support your local farms. Other ways to support local is to visit farm to table restaurants. Today, more and more restaurants choose to purchase not only produce but meat from local farms. By choosing to eat at these restaurants, you are also supporting local farms. Another option is to sign up for a CSA or community supported agriculture. It is your way of buying into a farm without actually growing the food. Each week you will get what is in season and picked by the farm. It is literally one of the best ways to eat from farm to table in your own home!
Produce is fresher and more nutrient dense
As mentioned above, the moment a food is harvested, it starts to lose its nutritional value. Which is also another reason why we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. The recommendation is 7-13 servings daily. While this may sound intimidating, aiming for half plate veggies with each meal can help you achieve this goal! Another great benefit is the food is fresher and just ultimately tastes better!
Make friends with the Farmer
By eating local, you can get to know the person that is actually growing and picking your produce! Attending local farmers markets also gives you the opportunity to ask questions about growing and harvesting, as well as information about what is used on your crops and how they are fed. Local food and local farming can also help create community and connection.
Eating local is better for the Environment
Do you ever think about how much energy it takes to get produce or even meat on your table? Eating more local reduce CO2 emissions by ultimately reducing food miles, which is the distance it takes food to travel from the farm to your table. On average, it takes 1500 miles for the average piece of produce to travel, while only 100 miles for local produce. Additionally, on average, eating local uses less packaging. If you visit a farmer’s market, you can buy in bulk and bring your own bag or basket to take home instead.
Buying local can be fun and a way to discover new foods
One of my favorite reasons to eat local and in season is because it offers us a way to try new foods and be adventurous. Whether wandering through a Farmer’s market or opening up a CSA box each week, there are always new discoveries! If unfamiliar with a food, the farmer can often provide answers and even recipes to help you enjoy the experience of trying something new!
In addition, meat is also important to eat local. Again, we can support our farmers, plus you can visit that farm to ask about feeding methods and how the animal is raised. Choose organic, grass-fed meats most often. Many farmer’s markets also provide information about how to get locally raised meat, eggs and milk.
Farmer’s markets are fun and can offer not only just produce and good quality meat, but often you can find local artisans that make their own jewelry or clothing as well as wood working items. A weekend morning at the farmer’s market is a great experience and a fun way to connect with local farmers, people and vendors.
Depending on the area you live, different resources may be available. Check social media to see what is happening in your area. You can also visit www.localharvest.org to learn more about local farms near you as well as https://www.ams.usda.gov/local-food-directories/farmersmarkets for more information!