5 Benefits of Eating Locally Grown Food
Guest Post by Regi Publico
Eating local and shopping local have come a long way past trends that boomed in popularity way back in the late 2010s. We’ve even seen people go on a more hyper-localized level during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers pivoted from malls to local stores.
The reason why sourcing food and ingredients locally are becoming a staple part of our lives is that we are paying more attention to the needs of the environment and the needs of our bodies. And who doesn’t like strolling along with your neighborhood farmers’ market, basking in all that freshness?
There are just so many amazing benefits of eating locally—from your health and your social life to the environment and the economy. Read on below and you might just be convinced to stick with local!
Many items in your grocery store are typically imported from distant states or even countries. Locally grown food is, by the name itself, grown and produced within your community. This means that local food, particularly produces, is often more fresh and delicious than what you’ll find on the shelves in malls and supermarkets.
If you’ve ever enjoyed a perfectly ripe mango or a sweet strawberry from your local farmers’ market even as you’re under the heat of the sweltering sun, you probably know the stark difference between the taste of local and nonlocal. Exotic food simply cannot compete with the freshness of locally grown fruits and vegetables.
The reason for their freshness lies in the way they’re harvested or gathered. This is often done just a day or two before the market, or even on the day of the market itself. As a result, some fruits and vegetables can ripen longer on the vine or thrive in more favorable conditions than if they had to travel to the grocery store. Depending on the type of product in question, this process makes it sweeter, juicier, and tastier compared to nonlocal products.
If you’re a chef or a home cook, you know that the freshest ingredients create the best-tasting dishes.
A lot of imported fruits and vegetables are picked before they fully ripen. The ripening process is generally delayed in shipment by cold temperatures or gas to ensure freshness. Bananas, tomatoes, and avocados are artificially ripened with ethylene once they reach our shores.
These processes are generally pretty safe. However, it’s also these processes that strip away some of the essential nutrients from these nonlocal products. Because locally cultivated produce does not have to travel insane distances or remain in storage for long periods of time, it retains more of its nutrients.
Of course, it’s still important to remember that all fruits and vegetables, whether you buy them fresh or frozen, local or not, contribute essential nutrients and are healthy complements to your diet. However, if you have the opportunity to opt for locally grown choices, you’ll most definitely receive the most nutritional bang for your buck.
Additionally, a lot of locally grown food naturally falls under “good mood food.” It’s not just your physical health that’s benefiting from this, but also your mental wellbeing.
When you’re eating well, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood swings, an improved ability to focus, and an overall happier outlook. That’s not to say that fixing up your diet will be a stand-in for therapy. Always seek the advice of a professional first and foremost.
When you buy locally grown and produced food, your money is more likely to stay within the community.
Local food has a multiplier effect, which means it contributes to greater employment and revenue in a community. Spending money in your neighborhood may help the local economy in the same way that a stimulus package boosts the national economy.
Local SMEs not only offer jobs for residents but their owners and employees are also more inclined to reinvest their earnings in other local stores and institutions, bolstering the economy in their region.
Keeping it local keeps local farmers and growers afloat, which means they can continue to push for the preservation of farmland and green spaces in your area. Local farms that adopt sustainable farming methods also increase biodiversity, protect pollinators that are critical to ecosystem health, and promote clean air, water, and soil.
Furthermore, the very short distances these locally grown food travel contribute to less pollution and fewer carbon emissions. You can even have your favorite local items delivered to you and not worry about hurting the environment!
One of the greatest benefits of buying locally that you may not immediately realize is that you’re being welcomed into a wonderful community filled with like-minded individuals.
Local farmers frequently form tight bonds with one another and with their local clients. As a consumer, you have the option of purchasing directly from the farmer at farmers’ markets or on their farm. This symbiotic relationship develops a sense of belonging and togetherness among community members.
Most people don’t realize that they don’t have a good relationship with food. While it’s not something that we can achieve overnight, eating more locally-grown food can definitely help, as it reconnects you to your food.
By eating more locally, you’ll be able to appreciate the importance of real food at a deeper level and how it affects your health, your community, your economy, and everyone around you.