Eating locally. We hear about it all the time but why is it important? Eating locally means choosing foods that are raised, crafted or grown nearby. Where do you find these foods? At your local farmers market, farm stands, Community Shared Agriculture programs (CSAs) or even in your grocery store. Some local restaurants even source local ingredients for their dishes. A hint for finding locally grown foods at your supermarket is to read the sign or label on the food. Of course, you could also just ask!
Here are 10 great reasons to eat local
1. Help your local economy. It makes sense, right? Buying from local farmers puts money right in their pocket. Money in their pocket helps feed other local businesses.
2. Fresher produce. Local produce comes right from the farm to you with very little to no travel time. Less handling and travel time mean less chance of bruising or acquiring parasites. There is also less likelihood that the nutrient content has decreased over this time.
3. Taste. Local food simply tastes better. This directly relates to the prior reason - it's fresher. Have you ever eaten a strawberry or blueberry right off the vine? Enough said!
4. Longer time to ripen. Local farmers can wait longer to pick their produce because it's not going far. It doesn't have to be rugged enough to endure the handling and travel time and has a longer time to absorb powerful nutrients.
5. Less environmental impact. There's less gas, energy and resources spent in transporting food.
6. Promotes food safety. Local food is less likely to become contaminated by food-born pathogens or bacteria due to less time in storage, transport and less overall handling.
7. Helps enhance mindful eating. One of the first steps to mindful eating is selecting your food and asking yourself, "where did this come from?". When you talk to the farmer who grew the food, you not only know the answer to this but have and wonderful story behind it; this can really enhance the overall eating experience.
8. Helps preserve green space and farmland. Supporting local, small farmers preserves our natural green space and farmland. This is great for air and water quality and also makes for a bucolic living area. Plus, farms offer a great opportunity to teach children about food and where it comes from which increases the likelihood of them eating it!
9. Promotes variety. Farmers who run Commmunity Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs), sell at local farmers markets and to local restaurants, have greater demand and this allows them to raise a wider variety of crops and livestock.
10. Helps create a sense of community. Knowing where your food comes from connects you to those who grow it. Instead of having a single, more detached relationship with your grocery store, you have numerous intimate connections with your local farmers, growers and artisans.
Looking for a farmers market? Check out this site for a list of farmers markets throughout Massachusetts. Are you a commuter? If you travel on I-90, make sure to check out the MassDOT farmers markets located at 18 state service plazas.