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Local Foods: Why You Should Be Eating Them

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It’s amazing to see the benefits buying local foods can provide to you. Local foods, as defined by the USDA, are foods that are grown or produced, processed and then sold within a certain area, typically one that is within 100 miles of your location. Most of your typical store-bought produce or other items have to travel hundreds, if not thousands of miles to reach your local grocery store.

While this may not seem like anything significant, this has many consequences on the foods you buy, on the environment you live in, and on your health as well. Thankfully, a visit to your local food market or other organic produce stand near you can help fix that! Curious to know how you buying local foods can help you feel better about what you’re consuming as well as with your own environmental impact? Read on to learn more!

Foods are better both in taste and in health benefits

There are endless studies that have shown that eating local foods is incredibly beneficial for your health and wellbeing. Much of the food that you pick up during your trip to the grocery store has been grown and picked over one to two weeks earlier, meaning that the fruits, vegetables, and other produce have begun to lose their freshness a long time ago.

Typically it has been found that produce begins to lose much of its healthy nutrients within 24 hours of being picked, so buying fresh local foods can help you enjoy more of those key health benefits. Additionally, it can also be noted that eating fresher, riper sustainable foods during their peak seasons tastes much better than that of fruits and vegetables that is readily available.

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Supporting local communities and economics

Additionally, eating locally helps to support your local community and economy. Not only are you supporting farmers within your area, you’re contributing to a boost within your own local economy. You’re able to help provide family businesses with support they need to cover growing costs and keep their farms alive while continuing to produce clean, sustainable food for your community.

Moreover, supporting local businesses like farmers markets allows for more economic boost within your local area, helping to contribute to more funding for schools, city programs, and other areas that rely on local communities to help stimulate economic growth.

Create a sense of community

Buying local foods also helps to build community within your local area. Much of the produce we enjoy comes in many variations, some of which we aren’t able to purchase from our grocery stores or aren’t even aware of. For example, did you know that California is known for producing 400 different crops that aren’t available anywhere else in the world, many of them typically being available only regionally as well? A visit to the grocery store likely won’t yield much success, but by visiting your local farmers market or a local farm, you may find more choices than you could even imagine.

Additionally, having produce specific to your region means that many people travel from far away to enjoy items you may not even be aware of! Another fun fact, there are over 2,500 different types of apples grown specifically in the United States! There may be a farm near you growing a variety of apples that aren’t available anywhere else, meaning that there may be a heavy amount of people traveling to your particular area in search of these items and you have no idea! Now that’s definitely something to feel proud of!

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Opportunity to try new foods

Buying locally also allows for you to try new great foods that are made close by. Many of us buying from the grocery store only have access to a limited amount of produce items, some of which aren’t necessarily in season or at their best. Visiting farmers markets or other places in which locally grown items are sold, though, may provide a new perspective on how you enjoy certain items and even show you items you may not have tried before. You may even be able to gain new recipes from farmers selling at the farmers market and gain new insight into foods you enjoy everyday as well as foods that may be new to you!

Teaches you how your food is grown

Have you ever looked at something you’re eating and wondered where it came from? It’s not an uncommon question – we all, at some point, wonder what is the source of what we put into our bodies. Buying local grown produce and other items help to eliminate that question altogether as you are able to meet the individuals at the forefront of your fruits and vegetables – the farmers.

Here you can ask questions like, “How clean is the soil you use?, Do you use any pesticides and, if so, what are the ones you typically use? When were these grown (in reference to a particular item)?” It’s important to know what you’re consuming, so being able to have honest conversations with those responsible for the produce you enjoy can make all of the difference in your health and provide you with peace of mind.

All in all, it’s no secret that buying local grown foods is a great way to positively impact both yourself and your community and environment around you. Whether you’re curious to know where your food comes from, you are looking to eat more nutrient dense foods, or you want to make a positive impact in lowering your carbon footprint, sourcing out local grown foods from farmers markets, local small grocery stores, or even taking a day trip out to your local community to find other places where farm to table products are available to you. The opportunities are truly endless!

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