Local, natural, free range, organic, fair trade, all these words get thrown around so often that it can be easy to forget about what they truly mean. Buying and eating local means to seek out food that is grown in your community. For example, if you live in a temperate climate, it might mean buying tomatoes from a local farmer instead of ones from the supermarket. Supermarket produce is usually imported from across the country, or from some other country altogether.
There are many excellent reasons to eat local, but here are the big three.
1. It is easy!
CSA, also known as Community Supported Agriculture farms, and farmer markets make it easy for you to find local fruits, vegetables, meat, and other products. Depending on where you live, you may also find it easy to get local foods year round. California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, and Louisiana, are among the states that have year round markets.
2. It is good for your local economy!
Read just a few food articles and spend thirty minutes Googling the food movement, and it will be immediately clear that one of the biggest draws for eating locally is that when you eat local, you are supporting your local farmers. Did you know that when you buy local food, 90 cents of each dollar ends up going directly to the farmer? This is important to keeping farmland in use, and our local farmers in business. Local and regional food sales increased by 11 billion dollars in 2011 because of farmers markets!
3. It is healthy for you and the environment!
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, families who had access to a farmers market ate 1.4 more fruit and vegetable servings than those without access. Also, eating locally means that you can enjoy fresh produce that was picked hours ago, as opposed to days.
About a fifth of all petroleum used by the U.S. is attributed to Agriculture, and is it any surprise? From the field to your fork, 1,500 miles is the average distance that your dinner could travel. When you eat locally, your meal comes to you from a range of hundreds of miles instead of thousands.
If you are already eating local and you want to take it to the next level, seek out local meat markets. When you know where your meat comes from and you choose to support local ranchers, you are taking another step towards protecting the health of yourself, the planet, and your community.