Looking around, it seems as if “going local” has become trendy. Between the t-shirts, all local menus at restaurants, and campaigns to keep what’s on your plate as close as possible, it can all seem a bit like a fad. Should you even care, or let local go the way of low-fat cheese? Absolutely not! Below are ten reasons you should try to make local happen in your kitchen.
1. Transportation=Food Waste
According to Modern Farmer, 43 billion pounds of food was thrown away in the U.S. last year. A portion of this is due to the loss of food during transportation (spoiling in the truck) but is also attributed to the shelf life of a product. Some produce has a hard time withstanding week long transit periods and looks less than fresh upon arrival, causing consumers to pass right by. By eating local food, we eliminate the waste generated by long transportation periods and are rewarded with fresher, more flavorful food.
2. Support Local Economy
Farming is a labor of love, and one that certainly doesn’t pay well. In recent years,it has become increasingly difficult for farmers to compete with big corporations. Bigger corporations have the money and support to abuse their products, use unsafe preservation practices, and sell their products at a lower price than local farmers can. Although local products are often more expensive, remember that those dollars you spend at a farmer’s market goes straight back into the farm, whether it be for feed, upkeep, or putting food on the farmers table, not advertising, and packaging.
3. Less GMOs, pesticides, rBGHs
Although this isn’t true with every farmer, many are much more conscious about pesticides and antibiotics, and traditional farmers rarely use Genetically Modified Organisms (or GMOs). If you are concerned about the growing list of unnatural products being added to foods these days, this is a great chance to talk to a local farmer to see how he treats his animals for diseases or tends to his crops.
4. Environmental factors
Transportation of non-local food also poses a problem to the environment. Many foods travel over 1,000 to show up at your supermarket. Can you imagine the carbon footprint of an avocado in the middle of a Michigan winter? It’s easy to reach for the foods we love when shopping without thinking of how unnatural they are to our climate, but next time, stop and think about where that tomato was grown.
5. Eat Real Food
Did you know that some tomatoes are not perfectly round red bundles of joy? Some are lopsided and purple-but taste even more amazing than the grocery store variety. By buying local food you are opening up your eyes (and mouths) to the great bounty that local land has to offer. That food at the farmers market is about as close as you can get to digging it up yourself, so expect delicious flavors to lie ahead.