It is so easy to just walk into a grocery store and fill your cart with foods that look delicious. Today’s grocery stores even have ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ foods for you to choose from. For many the label makes it easy for them to feel that they are getting the best foods available, while still maintaining the convenience of purchasing all their food in one place.
But just because you can purchase all of your foods in one place does not necessarily mean that you should, and it is a fact that even the ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ foods in most grocery stores are not locally grown foods. While they may be natural or organic, the benefits may be countermanded by the distance they had to travel. Besides that, there is more to eating locally than simple freshness.
Six Benefits of Eating Locally
Local Foods Are Fresh and In Season. It’s a fact, if you purchase locally grown foods you know that they are in season. They have to be in order to be grown and harvested. And fresher, in-season foods just taste better and they are better for you as well. Many nutritionists believe that eating with the seasons is the best way to keep our bodies healthy because nature has cycles and it knows exactly what we need to eat.
Locally Grown Foods Have Less Impact on the Environment. Shipping foods across country – even foods labeled organic – can have a negative impact on the environment. By eating locally grown foods you are significantly lessening the carbon footprint you would otherwise leave by eating foods grown out of state or in another country. Most times you won’t even need to sacrifice organic standards either. More and more small farmers grow their food without chemicals, they just cannot afford expensive certification. Get to know your farmer and you may be pleasantly surprised.
Locally Grown Foods Maintain Farmland. Buying locally grown foods ensures not only that you keep the carbon footprint of your foods as small as possible, but ensures that there is plenty of green space and farmland maintained in your local community in order to sustain the locally grown market. This is good for everyone who appreciates fresh air and a view of more than city streets and sidewalks.
Locally Grown Foods are Safer. By cutting out the middlemen; those individuals who process and package and ship the food, you cut down on the chance of your food getting contaminated – even inadvertently. Knowing where your food is grown and who grew it tells you something about the food itself, and knowledge, as they say, is power.
Buying Locally Grown Foods Boosts the Local Economy. You were going to buy the lettuce (or spinach or apples) anyway, why give your money to some big chain store or huge agri-business company? Why not keep that money in the neighborhood where you know it will do some good? If I have a choice between padding the pockets of a big corporation that may use my money to lobby against environmental issues or giving my money directly to a family that needs it.. I know which I would prefer. Purchasing food locally also cuts down on the amount of taxes and red tape involved in purchasing the food; money that would probably come out of your pocket anyway due to price hikes.
Purchasing Locally Grown Foods Create a Sense of Community. When you purchase food from a local grower it connects you to that person; through their land and the attention they have given to their produce, and how many of us want a connection to some big uncaring chain store? Making local connections instills a feeling of belonging and of community. People get talking, they share themselves with you, and with others, and everyone is better off.
If you are interested in more healthful living, in sustainability for your local farms, and in creating a sense of true community between yourself and those with whom you share your area, eating locally grown produce is definitely the right decision to make.
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Monday, June 27th, 2011