Thursday, July 31, 2008

Local Foods ... Thousands of Miles Fresher

Have you ever taken a bite of a tomato right off the vine? The taste is amazing ... so much better than anything one could buy at a store. And did you know that the nutritional content of a vegetable begins to diminish the moment it is picked? So ... if our food comes from the other side of the country ... or a completely different country ... how many vitamins and minerals are left in it by the time it hits our plate? Not much.

Buying local foods is great for so many reasons. It helps local economy ... it helps small farms stay in business ... it protects us from things like salmonella and botulism (food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination) ... and it keeps us in touch with the seasons (by eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive). But one of the most compelling reasons is that local foods are kinder to the environment ... even kinder than buying organic food that has crossed the country. Here's why ... when you buy local, the food hasn't had to travel very far to get to your table. Foods that travel have to be processed (often sprayed with chemicals to increase their shelf life), packed for shipping and then they travel ... usually in gas guzzling vehicles. That contributes to global warming. Also ... and this is just my own personal opinion based on my limited experience ... but I think that people who provide local foods (usually small farmers) are concerned with sustainability so ... their farming practices are eco-friendly ... a very good thing.

Last year we joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Every other week we get a box of freshly picked veggies from the farmer that we have gone into partnership with. I love feeling connected to the farm. And the vegetables that we get are unbelievable. But CSA's aren't the only way to get local foods. There are road side stands, U-pick farms, Tailgate markets, and Farmer's markets to name a few. There are even farms that allow customers to go out and get their hands dirty by helping with the planting and harvesting.

To get more information on eating local and find opportunities near you, check out the following website:

There's another way to get local foods that we haven't talked about yet ... growing it. But I think I'll save that for another day. For now ... I hope you'll all try local foods. Check out a farm near you!

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve.