Eating Locally Part 1—The Benefits

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Eating Locally Part 1—The Benefits

We want to talk about eating local foods. This movement is gaining major traction and for many good reasons. It’s not only good for your community, its economy, and the environment, but it’s also better for your own health.

Those who eat locally, or “locavores”, pride themselves in consuming principally foods that have been grown or produced in the region or community in which they live. While some people take it to the extreme, eating only produce and meats from their own town, the vast majority consider any foods within a 100 mile radius to be “local.”

But is this just another foodie trend or a movement with real, quantifiable benefits? We think it’s the latter, so today we’re breaking those benefits down. Our first installment of “Eating Locally” will provide easy tips for finding and incorporating these foods in your diet.

The Benefits:

  • Nutrient density. While certain produce, such as apples, grapefruit, and carrots are heartier, therefore keeping their nutrient density in tact over long distances, other produce, like broccoli, green beans, kale, peppers, apricots, and peaches, are highly susceptible to nutrient loss.[i] For many fruits and veggies, the moment it’s plucked from the vine, shrub, or tree, it starts to die and you miss out on loads of goodness by the time it ships cross country.
  • Economic impact. Buying from local farmers keeps money in your community, supports families in your area, and boosts the local economy. It also impacts your wallet as well. Research indicates that CSA members enjoy significant savings on organic produce, from 60% to 150%, compared with the price of commercial retailer’s produce.[ii]
  • Less processing. When you think of a bag of potatoes or a carton of red tomatoes, you don’t think of the term “processed.” We reserve images of potato chips and sleeves of cookies for that. However, truth is, the further your produce travels, the more steps of processing it encounters. From picking, sorting, washing, drying, and packaging, to shipping, storing, and stocking, every mile produce travels the more processed it becomes. Therefore, it’s best to eat foods as close to their source as possible.
  • Picked a peak. Sure, your commercial produce might have been plucked at peak season, but by the time it’s made its average journey of 1,500 to your home (according to the National Resources of Defense Council), it’s already started to go bad.[iii] When you buy from a local farmer, you are accessing fresh fruits and veggies that were plucked from the vine that morning, or very close to it, and will enjoy your produce at its absolute best. It also won’t instantly go bad in your fridge waiting to be consumed.
  • Chemical footprint. Compared to commercially produced fruits and vegetables, produce from local farmers tends to contain less chemical residue from herbicides and pesticides used in modern farming practices.[iv] If you’re trying to avoid these hazardous toxins, eating locally is a great way to do it. By doing so, you can chat with local farmers about their farming practices to make sure they align with your beliefs and goals.
  • Healthier lifestyle. In one 2011 study, researchers found an amazing link between weight control and local food consumption. For every $100 dollar increase per capita in direct farm sales, county levels of obesity rates were seen to decline by 0.90% – 1.0%.2 Unfortunately, as of that time, farm sales only accounted for roughly $7.00 per capita.
  • Environmentally friendly. The longer trip your strawberries and radishes take from source to table impacts the environment drastically. Produce that travels further requires more fuel resources to reach their final destination, as well as considerably more in energy consumption. Furthermore, commercial produce requires more in way of packaging, meaning more plastics and other materials are ending up in landfills.2

Eating locally definitely has its benefits and year after year, more research comes out heralding the importance of regional consumption. Stay tuned for our next edition of “Eating Locally” where we’ll share important tips for finding and adding local foods t

[i] McGill (n.d.). The benefits of eating local foods. Accessed June 13, 2016. Retrieved from https://www.mcgill.ca/foodservices/sustainability/green/local.

[ii] Dunning, R. (2013). Research-Based Support and Extension Outreach for Local Food Systems. Accessed June 13, 2016. Retrieved from https://cefs.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/research-based-support-for-local-food-systems.pdf.

[iii] The Torch (2012). Eating local produce has great benefits. Accessed June 13, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.in.gov/spd/files/July12.pdf.

[iv] Botsford Hospital (2012). Health benefits of locally grown foods. Accessed June 13, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.botsford.org/blog/index.php/2012/08/07/health-benefits-of-locally-grown-foods/.

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