Do you ever stop and think about the long journey food makes before it reaches your grocery bag? When we walk into a grocery store, most of the food on the shelves and even in the produce section, is shipped from sometimes thousands of miles away. This is what allows us to have such a variety year round. Like being able to buy pineapple in November! If you told someone that lived a century ago, this would be possible, they would have thought you were crazy. So in a century or so we have gone from eating only food that was "local" to mostly food shipped long distances. This is great for convenience sake. I can honestly say, I enjoy being able to choose from such a variety of fruits and veggies in the middle of winter. However, our family has found that eating locally comes with many benefits and summer is the best time to do this!
Reasons to buy locally;
-It's a great summer activity to go walk around a farmers market, especially if you have kids. When I take my girls, they just love seeing all the different vendors and the sunshine is a welcome change from neon lights beaming down on you.
-Food that's fresh tastes better! I get spoiled in the summer buying produce that's been picked that day, it can have vastly better flavor than produce that has made a long journey. Plus there are often heirloom varieties that you won't see in the grocery store.
-It helps the local economy. When you put your money in the pockets of local farmers it stays in the community.
-It's one of the most eco-friendly things you can do. Think of all the fuel used up by trucks, boats, etc, traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to bring us food. This doesn't happen when your food only travels down the road.
-Food that's fresh and grown locally can be more nutritious. There are beneficial compounds in all fruits and vegetables called Phytochemicals, more commonly known as Phytonutrients, that dissipate starting after they are harvested. So the fresher, the better it is for you!
-It supports local farmers, and these are people you want to support, trust me. I have personally met and talked to a handful of local, small scale farmers. What I have found, is that they are not in it for financial gain. They are passionate about growing healthy, good quality food, in a sustainable way.
If the idea of shopping locally is all new to you as it once was to me, don't worry! This web site www.localharvest.org is a great tool to help you find local farmers markets and farms you can visit. There are even some farms that deliver. Happy shopping!