The next time you go shopping for fruits and vegetables, will you go to the supermarket or a farmer’s market?
Food accounts for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions, and half of all habitable land in the world is used for agriculture.
We’re living in a highly globalized world, and we can find food from all over the world almost on our doorstep, but there are benefits to eating local food instead.
You don’t have to completely transform your diet, but if you begin to eat local more often, you can help both the environment and yourself! How, exactly? Keep reading to find out.
Good for the Environment
The further that food has to travel to reach your plate, the worse it is for the environment. Fresh food can travel over a thousand miles before it reaches our plate — why buy food that’s been across the world when your local farm has the same thing on offer?
When you buy local food, you’re buying food that has a much shorter chain of distribution, and it won’t be going to waste, either.
All too often, food is left in warehouses or on the shelf in the supermarket, where it’ll spoil and eventually be thrown away. By eating locally, you can reduce waste as well as look after the environment.
Look after your local open spaces by making sure they’re made use of!
When you live in an area with plenty of land, but it’s not being used by local farms and other small businesses, you risk it being developed for commercial, industrial, or residential use.
Farmland offers a home to all sorts of animals and plants, enriching the biodiversity of your region too.
This might not be something that instantly springs to mind, but it’s worth thinking about.
In larger-scale farming, only certain genetic strands are used, but local farms will often use plenty of different product types, with various colors and flavors.
This helps to preserve the genetic diversity of the produce, while even when farming animals a local farm can have plenty of different varieties, giving the consumer a number of different options!
Support the Local Economy
When you buy local, you’re supporting a smaller local business, or farm, instead of a huge corporation that operates on a national or international scale.
Buy from a large supermarket chain, and that money leaves your local economy. By keeping it in local circulation, you can help your local area grow and become more prosperous.
It helps to think about the long term too — we rely heavily on fossil fuels, and the future of energy is a little uncertain. Support local farmers and they’re more likely to remain in your community for years to come.
Problems with food security on a nationwide scale years or even decades down the line? If you’ve got plenty of local farms, you should be okay.
It’s simple — local farms create jobs for local people.
When you buy locally sourced food, you might be keeping your friends and family in jobs, or allow them to find work.
Local businesses, from restaurants and shops to hospitals and schools, can be supplied by nearby farms too.
Build Your Community
When you start eating locally, it’s not just the economy that benefits.
Farming is often something that runs in families — as almost a way of life as well as a business — so by using locally sourced food you can preserve the traditions of local families for future generations.
You can often find better customer service when you buy from local farms. Relationships are built between different farms and businesses, and between farmer and consumer — you won’t get this at the supermarket!
When you buy from farmer’s markets, or at the farm itself, you’re strengthening your area’s community spirit, and this can only be a good thing.
Fresh and Healthy Food
As we said above, local food doesn’t have to travel far to get to you, so it’s going to be fresher too!
When you buy a piece of fruit, for example, from the supermarket, it could be weeks old. In contrast, when you buy that same piece of fruit from a local supplier, it’ll be as fresh as you like.
When food is fresh and there are fewer chemicals used while it’s growing (like we’ll explain below) it’s going to be more nutritious and extremely healthy.
It’s Safer Too
When buying locally sourced food, you’re likely to be safer from bacteria like E. coli.
Outbreaks of illnesses like E. coli and Salmonella are more often linked to mass-produced food from major supermarkets — when you buy food locally, the supply chain is likely to be safer.
Generally, local producers won’t use harmful herbicides and pesticides like commercial farmers do, and because local food is sold and consumed shortly after its grown, it won’t need to be treated with chemicals and preservatives to make it last longer.
The Dirty Dozen
Every year, the Environmental Working Group releases their ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of the twelve fruits and vegetables with the highest traces of pesticides and harmful chemicals.
The foods on this list should be your focus when buying and eating locally — they can change each year, but these are the most recent fruits and vegetables to make the list — remember them when you’re sourcing local ingredients:
If you eat any of the above, you can look after yourself and the environment by buying locally!
Get Started — Eat Local Today
As you can see, there are so many benefits when you eat local.
Even in yourself, you’ll be content in the knowledge that you’re making a valuable contribution to your local area, and looking after the environment too. Doesn’t it feel great to know that you’ve been able to make a difference?
For more advice on everything to do with food and cooking, don’t forget to check out the rest of the posts on our site.