Enjoying local foods means eating foods that were grown close to you. Defining local is hard, but depending on where you live, most people agree that food grown within 100 miles of you would be considered as locally harvested.
Local foods harvested in your area are easier to find than ever before due to the increased numbers of farmer’s markets opening up throughout the country. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates there were 7,175 Farmer’s Markets in 2011, up from only 1,755 in 1994.
Why Eat Local?
- Fresh and full of flavor. Most local produce is harvested 24 hours before you see it. Because of reduced transit time and immediate availability the food you get is fresher, more flavorful, and often even packed with a little extra nutrition.
- Get Involved. Enjoying what is grown in and around your community allows you to get involved in your community, meet your neighbors and give back to the place where you live.
- Impact Less and Do More. Local eating has less of a harmful impact on the environment since the food does not have to travel long distances to reach you or require packaging for transport or sale. However, your decision to eat locally has a tremendous impact on the local economy, keeping your money in your community and supporting the work of your neighbors.
- Explore, Experiment and Educate. Choosing to purchase your food locally allows you to see new places (visiting farms), experiment with new recipes and flavors (local varieties, heirloom produce, quail eggs, ostrich meat), and learn more about the immediate world around you (when, where and how your food is grown).
Where Is All This Food?
CSAs (Community-Supported Agriculture) is a convenient way to receive fresh, local produce on a regular basis. CSAs allow community members to purchase a share of the farm or group of farms and in turn provide its shareholders with portion of the harvests.
Find a Farmers Market or CSA nearby you: www.localharvest.org
U-Pick: These types of farms are most popular during the fall when apples and pumpkins are in season or during the spring and summer when berries and peaches are ripe for the picking, but many run year round. U-pick farms offer the opportunity to experience a harvest first hand and often at a lower cost. In addition, the farmer is able to keep more of the profits allowing for better funding of the farm, its growth and place in your community.
Supermarket: Many large chain supermarkets run special programs throughout the harvest season to promote locally grown foods. Check with the produce manager about locally grown programs and look for special signs on fruit and vegetable displays that advertise locally-grown items.
Grow your own: Another great way to eat local is to grow your food in our own back yard. While it is not practical for everyone to have a farm or even a large garden, a tomato or a strawberry plant is a good start. It is also a fun way to get your child interested what they eat and where foods come from.