Today is the second day of LFW and you should stop by Danforth from 5-8pm for a classy local foods dinner. Just say’in.
I’m sure you’ve probably been told a million and one times that you should buy locally grown. Yesterday, we talked about what is local foods and how our the U of R defines local foods? But why should you buy local? Why should you even care? What’s the benefit to you, your community and the environment?
1. Support the Local Economy
When you buy local produce, you are directly supporting the local economy (‘local’ meaning your country, your state, your region, your town, or yourself). You’re pumping cash straight into the pockets of your local neighbors or citizens of your region; and they, in turn, are able to pump that cash back into the local economy.
The closer it’s grown to you, the fresher it is. And of course, the fresher the produce, the better it tastes. Since farmers often harvest their crops before they’re fully ripe, and then refrigerate them so that they don’t go bad during transportation, such produce often does not fully ripen to its full flavor as it would if it had ripened naturally. Produce loses it’s flavor and freshness at each step: during refrigeration, during shipping, and while held in warehouses along the distribution chain.
Produce loses nutritional value for the same reasons it loses its full flavor. When farmers harvest early, then those vegetables or fruits don’t have as many nutrients as they would if they had been allowed to fully ripen naturally. Plus, the further your produce has to travel to get to you, the more likely the farmers will have used irradiation, preservatives, and other chemicals to kill germs and bacteria growth, or to just make the produce look nicer, such as wax coatings.
4. Lower Cost
You can save money if you do choose to buy in-season, locally grown produce. In season produce is often being harvested in abundance at the same time in your nearby region. This means there’s a surplus, and thus, the cost goes down. Many people buy in season produce and then freeze it or can it for a later date, as well.
If you decide to just eat produce that’s in-season, you can anticipate a different set of foods being in season at any given time. And you will always be pleasantly excited when the harvesting season for your favorite berry or legume comes along. You may not always get to eat any food you want at any time of year, but you’ll always have a wide variety of produce throughout the year…and you may appreciate those fruits and vegetables all the more when they do come into season. This is true even if you freeze local produce during it’s peak, because not all produce can be frozen, or can’t stay frozen for too many months.
6. Smaller Carbon Footprint
The farther away your food is grown from you, the more CO2 spewed into the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels in the vehicles used to carry your food to you. CO2 is one of the most significant greenhouse gases contributing to global warming and climate change–a problem which we are all a part of.
Buying local fruits and vegetables, which isn’t really even a major action, but a choice, will help the Earth tremendously. You don’t have to do anything… just make the choice to buy local produce while you’re out shopping for fruits and vegetables. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see it takes little to no effort–only thought, really.
But buying and eating local produce doesn’t require an all or nothing attitude. Being green is about being practical, not being perfect. You don’t have to buy only local produce religiously, all the time. Buy whatever amount or variety of local produce fits your lifestyle, and makes sense for you and your family. Go ahead and indulge in that favorite meal you’ve been craving, even if the ingredients are out of season. But do take the leap and start to buy local produce on an occasional, if not a semi-regular basis.
Not only will buying local produce greatly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into our atmosphere, but it will also let you feel good about yourself because you’re part of the solution, and not a part of the problem. This one, simple decision is a huge step in the right direction–and that’s something your great-great-grandchildren or grand-nieces and -nephews can write home about.
Author: Nicky Aimcharoen