Eating locally is the idea of intentionally and purposefully eating locally grown or raised foods. It means growing or raising our own food. Supporting a local farmer’s market or farm stand. Or enjoying seasonal fare at a restaurant featuring fresh foods produced within our own (or a nearby) community.
The 3 powerful benefits of eating locally include:
- Deepening our connection with the food we eat
- Supporting the local economy and local families
- Significantly reducing our environmental impact
Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
Eating locally deepens our connection with the food we eat.
Eating foods grown in local soil is great for our own microbiology, and it also strengthens our bond with the food we eat. This may seem trivial, but intentionally eating vegetables, fruits, or meat raised locally can have far more meaning than simply acquiring this food among the masses in a big grocery store.
Shopping at a local farm enables us to see the food growing, or the animals grazing. We can imagine how the food was cared for. We can be more aware about how this food is truly nourishing our bodies.
By growing our own vegetables or raising animals we see the connection at an even more visceral level. Taking a bite out of an apple, slicing a big juicy tomato, or pulling a deliciously sweet carrot, that you have grown, is something you will never forget. This food has a story, and you are a part of it.
Growing my own food has had a huge impact on my own diet as well. I can grow the most nutritious varieties. I can eat these fruits and vegetables at the peak of their freshness. And, because I am growing as organically as possible, my overall toxin consumption should be relatively low.
Eating locally improves the local economy by directly supporting local families.
Eating locally allows us to directly support local families, and thus, in turn, to improve our local economy. Money needs to continuously circulate within our community to keep the local economy going round. When we spend money within our community, we ensure that more of this money remains within our community than if we had spent the same amount at a chain retailer.
We also ensure that we continue to have local businesses around. Furthermore, we are able to build relationships with people and businesses locally and know the farmer(s) providing the food we eat.
Eating locally significantly lessens our environmental impact.
The average meal travels about 1500 miles from farm to plate. Local food obviously has far fewer food miles than the counterparts from across, or outside, our country. This helps to reduce fossil fuel usage and the subsequent carbon dioxide emissions and pollution. Therefore, eating local food is an easy way to lessen our environmental impact. Plus, excessive packaging and waste can be minimized when we shop locally with reuseable bags and containers.
How to start eating locally.
Eating locally can start right in your own backyard. Nothing is more local than your own homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Visiting your local farmer’s market or a nearby farm stand is also a great way to find local foods. Even your closest grocery store or health food store may have a section of locally grown foods.
Long ago, I started with a few containers of herbs, tomatoes, and peppers. I have since progressed to several raised vegetable beds, and dozens of fruit trees and bushes. Once I started to think about when to plant certain vegetables I started paying attention to when these foods were commonly available at markets. By visiting the same orchard over the course of a year, I was fascinated by the changing varieties of apples throughout the summer. I grew anxious for the fresh peaches, cherries, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. Eating locally allows me to explore and experiment with new recipes, and to unlock my creativity in the kitchen.
You see, eating locally is the only way to eat the freshest foods possible. And once you have tasted truly fresh vegetables and fruit you will never look at those shipped thousands of miles the same again.
Eating locally invokes an adaptation to appreciate the seasonality of foods. Being okay with not always having tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, or berries. But, also embracing these vegetables and fruits even more when they are in season. And we may just improve our diets along the way by incorporating new foods and diversity into our culinary repertoire.