3 Benefits of Eating + Buying Local Produce
People often recognize that buying local produce means supporting local farmers and their production, but there are several other reasons why shopping and eating local food is better across the board. We’re proud to partner with regional growers to incorporate fresh, seasonal produce in our lunches. And when you invest in local food products in your everyday life, you invest in yourself and your community. Here are a few ways how.
Local food is more nutritious and flavorful. The moment a fruit or vegetable is harvested, it begins to lose its nutritional value because enzymes start to break down and consume vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Local produce doesn’t spend as much time traveling in trucks or sitting in warehouses as food from other states or countries, so it reaches your plate with more nutrients preserved. Local food is also fresher, which means that it tastes better. Fruit sugar, for example, is converted to starch the longer the fruit sits after being picked, affecting its flavor. Produce from area farms are picked when they’re ripe instead of being picked too early to compensate for travel time.
Local food is better for the economy. The most obvious way food benefits the economy is by keeping money within your local economy. When you buy from a chain, that money can leave your area and benefit another city, state, or country. By investing in the operations of local farmers,consumers also promote the growth of these businesses, which in turn creates more jobs for their communities.
Local food is better for the environment. Because local food doesn’t travel nearly as far as food supplied from farms outside the community, it produces a smaller carbon footprint. Some fruits and vegetables travel miles by land or by air before they reach your plate, using large amounts of fuel in the process. Simply put, reducing miles reduces harm to the environment. Local farms are also less likely to use large amounts of chemicals in their operation. According to the Center for a New American Dream, even non-organic farms use less harsh chemicals, which prevents runoff of pesticides and herbicides into local rivers and lakes. Local producers are also more likely to grow a variety of crops instead of monocropping, or only planting one type of crop. The variety promotes biodiversity and crop rotation, which prevents soil depletion, or the loss of nutrients in the soil.
All of these factors not only work to benefit us today, they promote the long-term health of our communities. The next time you’re shopping for peaches or tomatoes this summer, consider visiting your local farmers market!