Why Eat Local? The Health Benefits of Locally-Sourced Food

man looking at potatoes

Eating locally sourced food has rapidly become the hottest trend in the culinary world. Everywhere, people are talking about what is in season, where their food comes from, and how much they enjoy the flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Part of the reason people are turning to home-grown food is climate change. Now that the public is aware of the consequences of climate change and how their consumption has fueled the planet’s warming, any people want to do their part and be as eco-friendly as possible. Locally grown food means that the carbon footprint doesn’t have to travel as far, which helps limit climate change.

Undoubtedly, eating local food has many benefits. Aside from the reduced carbon footprint, it is helping to support local economies. In addition, here are other benefits you get to your health from eating locally sourced food:

Local Produce Is Fresh

Eating locally sourced food means eating freshly harvested produce. The longer crop sits on a truck or in the grocery store before being bought, the more time it passes through a cold chain. Each time food passes through a cold chain, it loses flavor.

Moreover, to preserve freshness, suppliers have to add chemicals. These chemicals make your apples and grapes crisp, but they’re not exactly good for your health.

Local Produce Has More Nutrients

The longer fruits and vegetables sit in a truck or a grocery store, especially if they travel a long way to get to the store, the less fresh they become. All of those moments going through a cold chain lose essential vitamins and minerals critical to your health. Locally sourced foods don’t travel as far, so their nutrient levels stay higher for much longer than if those shipped across the country or world.

Farmer harvesting vegetables and using a wooden wheelbarrow

You Know How Local Produce Is Grown

When you buy fruits and vegetables from the grocery store, you don’t know where they came from. That’s a problem because you also don’t know what farmers used to grow it.

Coffee, for example, is one of the most chemically dependent crops in the world. To keep its color and flavor, farmers have to spray the coffee heavily with fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, and even banned substances like DDT.

However, if you know where your coffee beans are coming from, you can learn how they are grown. Choose single-origin coffee, which means that they come from one farm. This allows you to learn about the farming methods of your coffee beans, and you can support sustainable agriculture practices simultaneously.

Farmers often spray conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with many chemicals that can harm your health. They’re produced using synthetic fertilizers that don’t have as much nutritional value as natural fertilizers.

Buying Local Produce Leads to Cleaner Air

Transporting food around the world does not bode too well for the environment. All of that transportation creates greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change. Take avocados, for example. In the United States and other countries, the consumption of avocados has gone up in recent years. People love its creamy texture, its versatility, and its health benefits. However, this “green gold” has an enormous carbon footprint.

Avocados are grown in both South America and California. Although it is produced in the same country, this doesn’t mean that travel time is minimized. It must be picked, prepared for transport, and then traveled to another country on a truck or even by air. As stated above, local fruits and vegetables travel shorter distances than produce shipped across the nation or world. Therefore, this limits how many greenhouse gas emissions are released.

Local Food Economies Improve

Several communities throughout the United States and other countries don’t have access to healthy fruits and vegetables year-round. The reason why is because they don’t grow anything in their area. These are called food deserts, which suffer from a lack of grocery stores and other healthy food providers. If they’re lucky, people in these places have access to small markets that sell a few pieces of fruit here and there.

However, if more people buy locally sourced foods, it will encourage more farmers to grow food. This will make it possible to open more grocery stores with a greater variety of produce. In time, this will lead to healthier communities with less obesity and other obesity-related diseases. By encouraging the purchase and consumption of locally grown and sourced food, people are giving back to their communities and improving the lives of everyone that lives there.

Whenever you want to improve your health or play a role in improving the world around you, buy local fruits and vegetables. The reduced carbon footprint is great for the environment, but what’s even better is all the health benefits of eating locally sourced food.

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