5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Local Produce
5 Reasons Why You Should Eat Local Produce
By Lindsay K. Smith
In the past decade, there has been a movement towards consumers in the United States eating more local foods. In fact, the trend has become so popular a name was created for people who eat local called "locavore". A locavore is “A person whose diet consists only or principally of locally grown or produced food.” (Oxford, 2018)
So, what does local mean? Well that depends largely on who you ask. The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, defined "locally" and "regionally" as: ‘‘(I) the locality or region in which the final product is marketed, so that the total distance that the product is transported is less than 400 miles from the origin of the product; or (II) the State in which the product is produced.”. However, if you were to ask the coiner of the word locavore she would say local is “anything grown within 100 miles of its point of purchase or consumption” (Roosevelt, 2006). For some it is anything within their state and for others it means anything grown in the city they reside in.
Here at A Place at the Table, our mission is to provide community and healthy food for all regardless of means. Each day our customers help us to achieve our mission and because we make an effort to buy local we are able to support the local economy and bring people together around food!
So, what are five reasons you should eat local produce, other than the fact that A Place at the Table serves them?
1. Buying local food supports the local economy. By spending money with local farmers and growers you are investing in your community. North Carolina is an agricultural state and by buying local you are helping our great state thrive. In late 2009, North Carolina decided the join the local movement with launch of the 10% campaign which was aimed at stimulating economic development, creating jobs and promoting the state's agricultural offerings. The campaign encouraged individuals and businesses to pledge to spend at least 10% of their food budget on locally sourced foods. The Center for Environmental Farming Systems estimated that if all North Carolinian's allocated 10% of their food budget every year an additional $3.5 billion would be generated for the state's economy, particularly in rural areas with the least amount of economic growth.
2. Local food often has more nutrients, is frequently more flavorful, and allows you to eat seasonally. Local food reduces the amount of time between harvest and your table, and decreases the likelihood that the nutrient value diminishes during transport. Food imported from states that are far away and other countries often lose nutrients along the way because of the time in between harvest and consumption. Additionally, local crops are more likely to be picked at peak ripeness which helps to ensure that flavor is not lost during processing and transport.
3. Buying local benefits, the environment. Locally grown foods help maintain farmland and decrease chances of erosion when fields are being used regularly. Buying local also helps to cut down on carbon emission because there is less transportation needed to transport your food. According to the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), “Transporting food long distances uses tremendous energy: it takes 435 fossil-fuel calories to fly a 5-calorie strawberry from California to New York.”
4. Local foods promote a safer food supply. The more steps there are between you and your food’s source the more chances there are for contamination. According to the CDC each year, roughly 1 in 6 people get sick from eating contaminated food. Local food does not guarantee that you will not get sick but it is able to reduce the number of people handling your food which decreases the potential for food safety issues at harvesting, washing, shipping and distribution.
5. Local growers can tell you how the food was grown and often have greater biodiversity. By shopping at your local farmers market, you can ask what practices the farmers use to raise and harvest the crops. This allows you to be more conscious about how your food is grown. There also tendency for smaller locally owned farms to have more biodiversity because they produce smaller harvests. This allows you to be exposed to new fruits and vegetables and allow us to preserve the agricultural gene pool which protects the food supply from parasites that can wipe out foods.
About the Campaign. http://www.nc10percent.com/our-story
CDC. (2011, June). Making Food Safer to Eat. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/foodsafety/index.html
Locavore. [Def. 1] (n.d). In English Oxford Living Dictionary Online, Retrieved May 30, 2018, from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/locavore.
Roosevelt, M. (2006, June 11). Local-Food Movement: The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1200783,00.html.