Locally grown produce has more nutritional value and better taste. Produce purchased in chain grocery and big-box stores has been in transit for days or weeks. Co-ops and farmers’ markets sell much produce picked in the last 24-48 hours before it reaches you, which means it has longer to ripen on the plant, tree, or vine and develop optimal flavor and nutrition. A plant food’s nutritional value begins to decline the moment it’s picked. And foods with higher nutritional content, more “aliveness,” simply have more flavor.
Eating food grown in our region keeps us in touch with the seasons. By eating what our environment offers as the seasons change, we eat foods at their peak of taste, their greatest abundance, and lowest cost. We connect with the flow of nature and save money. Now that’s a win-win!
Buying locally educates us about our own food culture. Whether it’s the dairy farmer who brings his fresh milk to our market or the baker who grinds her own wheat for those luscious loaves, every grower, artisan and producer has a story that contributes richly to our local food culture. Our community grows stronger when we learn their stories and appreciate our collective uniqueness.
Locally grown food is more diverse. Regional farmers raise a variety of animal breeds that thrive in our climate, and they can grow many unusual species of crops that are not bred to withstand mass harvesting, rough handling and long transit times.
Eating locally helps the environment. A March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy determined that the miles food travels before we consume it creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. (reference) A gradual move by each of us toward a local organic diet will make a difference both to our health as individuals and to the health of our communities in every respect.
Eating food grown by local farmers sustains the land. Small farmers have a vested interest in environmentally sound growing practices that allow the land that is their livelihood to continually renew its fertility.
Shopping locally strengthens our area’s economy. Buying from local food retailers, restaurants and farms keeps the dollars we earn circulating in our community.