Why eat local? Locally grown produce will be in season and picked at peak ripeness. Why is this important?
- Taste– Produce tastes best when it is allowed to ripen on the plant. The taste, texture, and crispness will be optimal.
- Nutrients– Produce loses 30% of its nutrients within 3 days of harvest. Research done at the University of California indicates that veggies can lose anywhere from 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C within a week. Spinach can lose up to 90% within the first 24 hours. Produce that is shipped is not allowed to ripen and does not develop full nutrient values. What nutrients it does have are mainly lost during shipping.
- Support local economy and community-Instead of going through a middle man, you’ll buy directly from the local farmer who grew the produce or meat. You can ask questions: What fertilizer is used? Did you use any chemicals? Was the beef 100% grass fed? Are the chickens free-range? The local farmer we use for meat knows us by name and face. As soon as he sees us coming, he knows what we want. We know we’re supporting a local, small farm not big business.
- Environment– The shipping and gas related impact on the environment is lessened dramatically
- Safe-Locally grown produce is less likely to use pesticides or Genetically Modified Organisms. Get to know your farmer. Ask questions.
Farmers markets are springing up all over the country. In 1994 there were approximately 1,755 markets across the country, now there are roughly 8,500 + . Below is a list of websites for you to find a market near you:
USDA National Farmers’ Market Directory-This is a nationwide directory, put together by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Local Harvest and Local Harvest-Community Supported Agriculture-This is a non-profit organization with a database of local farmers’ markets and CSA’s (community gardens/coops)-the CSA will assist you with purchasing local produce in the winter time.
Local Farm Markets-Another non-profit with a data base of local farms, roadside stands and farmers markets.
Farmers’ Market Online-This is a directory of all 50 states, D.C. and portions of Canada.
Locally Grown– A smaller data base, with pockets of farmers’ markets in larger cities across the country.
Eat Wild-A directory to purchase local or organically grown:
Beef,Pork, Lamb, Veal, Goat, Elk, Venison, Yak, Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Turkeys, Eggs, Milk, Cheeses, Wild-Caught Salmon and more!
Farm Stand App-A farmers’ market app for your phone
If you buy from farmers’ markets, you’ll always be buying in season. If, however, you choose to buy at the local grocery store, buying fruit and vegetables that are in season will ensure the freshest food possible. Many stores are beginning to sell locally grown leafy greens and other vegetables. Check to see where your store grows the store brand produce. For example, Wegman’s, an east coast grocery store chain, grows the store brand produce, dairy, beef and chicken on the east coast, on farms/green houses in Pennsylvania, etc. This means locally grown, at least when you realize that most produce comes from California, Mexico, South America or even farther. Below is a list of what produce to buy seasonally:
Eating seasonally takes some getting used to, but, that’s why I push my “use what’s on hand” motto. Stay tuned for the next “How to eat healthy”, where I’ll discuss the pros and cons of food boxes and buying groceries from online vendors.