The ‘locavore’ movement has been gaining attention over the last few years. Plenty of people have documented their challenge to eat only local, all the time. Some may even call it a food trend (imagine that), but there are heaps of reasons why eating food that’s been grown in your area is definitely not a bad idea.
1. Reduce food miles
You might take it for granted that you are able to drive to the supermarket and do your grocery shopping. But trust me, these food chains don’t have gardens in the back. The produce and packaged food you see there have traveled hundreds, and often thousands, of miles just to get to you. And when you add up the impact all those ships, trucks, trains, and trolleys have on the environment, even a certified organic item doesn’t necessarily seem all that eco-friendly anymore.
2. Increased nutrient content
The longer a piece of produce is in transit, the more nutrients it will lose. By the time that salad lands on your dinner plate, it may have less than half of the nutrients it should have! But when you buy locally, that apple may have just been picked off the tree that morning. Fresher is always better.
And it’s not only the time traveling from farm to plate that will affect the nutrition of any given food. Industrial farming practices have literally raped the soil of it’s nutrients over time. Heaps of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, & herbicides are sprayed on the plants, which deteriorates the quality and health of the soil. Monocultures (the practice of growing the same crop on a piece of land year after year with no variety or time to let the soil replenish itself) are also devastating to the land.
3. Support your local economy (and often save a buck yourself!)
Joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) co-op or shopping at local farmer’s markets is a great way to support small farms and local businesses, and is often far more affordable than sticking solely with the supermarket. Buy in bulk and learn how to can and preserve to stretch your dollar even further.
4. Take a stand
. . . against the effects of chemical herbicides/pesticides on the environment (not to mention the health of the farmers)
I mentioned above that chemical fertilizers, pesticides, & herbicides are wreaking havoc on the soil. But follow the logic one step further and you’ll find that those chemicals are absorbed into the land and end up in rivers, streams, and lakes, negatively impacting flora and fauna, and eventually finding their way into our public water supply.
These chemicals are also extremely dangerous to the farmers and field workers who are directly exposed to them on a daily basis.
Your dollar is the often the biggest weapon you have to truly voice your opinion and call for change. Vote with your wallet by buying local and make a difference.
5. Learn something
When you are forced to research local farmers, farmers markets, and co-ops, your horizons are broadened to what is happening in your area. You meet new people and make new connections.
But eating local can even mean joining a community garden or starting one yourself! The skills you learn by growing your own food (even if it’s through trial and error!) are ones that will carry through the rest of your life. And your kids will love to be involved in the garden (cuz since when is playing in the dirt and finding worms not fun?!)
You may not be interested in challenging yourself to eat strictly local food. I admit, it’s not something that’s considered easy!
But I find the key is to do your best where you can. Make a real effort to grow your own food or buy local when possible.
Are you a locavore? What are the biggest challenges for you to eat local?
You can also read an expanded version of this post on ThrifyandGreen.com!