13 Reasons To Eat Local

October 30, 2012

In case you have some spare time whilst awaiting impending doom a la the Sandy variety – heres a list of 13 reasons why you should eat local. This list comes from the book, The 100 Mile Diet, which I read this past summer.

If you’re looking for an interesting read about one couple’s journey into eating local food (within a 100 mile radius of their home in British Columbia, Canada) for an entire year- definitely check out this book. Thoroughly enjoyable, and not pretentious at all. They ate potatoes for like, months. That’s committment right there.

13 reasons to eat local (from the authors of The 100 Mile Diet):

  1. Taste the difference- most local produce found at farmers markets has been harvested inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh, and full of flavor- unlike supermarket fruits and veggies that may have been picked weeks or even months, before. Close to home crop varieties can also be selected for taste rather than durability because they don’t have to withstand the abuse of shipping or industrial harvesting.
  2. Know what youre eating- buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used on this tomato? Is that corn genetically modified? Was that chicken free-range or did it grow up in a cage? People who eat locally are closer to the south of their food and can actually ask these questions. They can build relationships with farmers whom they trust. And when in doubt, they can drive out to the farms and see for themselves.
  3. Meet your neighbors- local eating is social. Studies show that people shopping at farmers markets have ten times as many conversations as their counterparts who shop at the supermarket. Join a community garden and youll actually meet people you pass on the street in your neighborhood.
  4. Get in touch with the seasons- when you eat locally, you eat whats in season. Youll remember that cherries are the taste of the summer. Even in winter, comfort foods like sqush soup and pancakes just make sense- a lot more than flavorless cherries from the other side of the world.
  5. Discover new flavors- ever tried sunchokes? How about purslane, quail eggs, yerba mora, or tayberries? These are just a few of the new flavors you could eat by eating locally. Count the types of pears on offer at your supermarket. Maybe three? Four? That is just the tip of the iceberg. Small farms are keeping alive nearly 300 varieties- while more than 2000 have been lost in our rush to conformity.
  6. Explore your community- visiting local farms is a way to be a tourist on your own home turf, with plenty of stops for snacks.
  7. Save the world- A study in Iowa found that a regional diet consumed 17 times less oil and gas than a typical diet based on food shipped across the country. The ingredients for a typical british meal, sourced locally, traveled 66 times fewer food miles. In many places, low-carbon farming is beginning to bring food to local farmers markets with minimal fossil fuel use in every part of the cycle. Think of eating locally as your own personal carbon offset.
  8. Support small farms- there is new life being breathed into the family farm in areas with bustling local markets, strengthening the regional economy and anchoring communities. That’s a whole lot better than the jobs at Wal-Mart and fast-food outlets that the globalized economy offers in north American towns.
  9. Give back to the local economy- a British study tracked how much of the money spent at a local food business stayed in the local economy, and how many times it was reinvested. The total value was almost twice the contribution fo a dollar spent at a supermarket chain.
  10. Be healthy- many people want to know whether the 100 mile diet works as a weight loss program. The question has not seriously studied, but according to the authors, it seems that most people do lose weight eating local foods. More importantly, though, people often feel better than ever. They eat more vegetables and fewer processed products, sample a wider variety of foods, and eat more fresh food at its nutritional peak. When eating from farmers markets and cooking from scratch, there’s rarely a need to count calories.
  11. Create memories- a night spend making jam with friends is more fun than hunkering down in the dark with the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Cooking and eating with family and friends is, and always has been, an integral part of our social network.
  12. Have more fun while traveling- once youre addicted to local eating, youll want to explore it wherever you go- a catalyst for this blog, actually.
  13. And always remember… everything about food and cooking is a metaphor for sex.

 

Do you have any more reasons to add? Please share your tips on why eating local is great in the comments!