The Benefits of Eating and Shopping Local
Updated: Feb 6
Now is the perfect time for you to start shopping locally for your food. Before you say that you are already shopping local because you shop at Publix, understand that I am talking about something a little more local than that. Farmer’s markets and food stands exist everywhere and you may be driving right past them on your way to work without even noticing. The number of ways to find and buy food is growing and now more than ever we have the ability to be more critical about where our food is coming from.
Discover Better Flavors
If you have ever traveled to the coast for seafood or driven out to a farmer’s field to pick fruit, then you have experienced firsthand the importance of eating food fresh. Food that is eaten as soon as it is picked or gathered has more flavor than food that has sat on a shelf for a few weeks or months, with very few exceptions. The best lobster I have eaten was caught on a family fishing trip to the Florida Keys during lobster season. After eating seafood that fresh, you can imagine my disappointment when I walked into a seafood restaurant chain and ordered lobster expecting it to taste the same. Back when Florida orange groves were common, I got my very first taste of all-natural orange juice when a lady farmer showed me how to peel the skin off the top of an orange and cut a hole in the top so that it would fill with juice when squeezed. To this day I remember the taste of that orange juice and it was the best I have ever had without a doubt. If you are searching for food that is more flavorful, or perhaps you aren’t aware yet of what you are missing, then it is time to give locally grown food a try.
Get Your Much-Needed Nutrients
In addition to better flavor, food that is farmed locally is often more nutritious and healthier food. It is no secret that food that is required to sit on a shelf must contain ingredients or chemicals that are not always good for you, especially in large quantities. In addition to this, the longer food sits the fewer amount of nutrients that you are intaking into your body. While many stores are adapting to their brands to suit consumer tastes and are beginning to carry products that are labeled all-natural or organic, these products may not be inherently better for you since they must still go through the standard packaging and shipping process. When it comes to food selection, it is important to remember that the main purpose of food consumption is not our pleasure or enjoyment. The good nutrients in our food are instrumental in helping our bodies fight disease, maintain energy, stay in shape, and positively affect our appearance. It's important to make good lifestyle choices for our bodies' overall health. The decision of what we intake will affect us not only in the short-term but in the long-term as well. For that reason, seeking out food with nutritional value is so important for your well-being.
Support the Local Economy
We give back to our communities by attending fundraisers, supporting nonprofits, participating in events, and giving our financial support. Buying products that are made locally is just one more way to support those in your community. Local farmers, fishermen, and small business owners put their livelihoods on the line by working in an ever-changing and high-risk industry. Crops are dependent upon weather and those who supply meat are dependent upon the health of their animals. Giving back to those who work hard despite the challenges to create exceptional products should be supported and appreciated by those in their communities. Supporting your local farmers and food entrepreneurs can be a great way to connect and learn more about the food that helps to support people and in turn, support the economy where you are from.
What About Environmental Benefits
It may seem like a no brainer that eating local food may be better for the environment. However, the benefits to the environment from local farming are more than just the lack of waste that comes from eating food that doesn’t require as many plastic containers. Without the demand for vast quantities, local farmers are able to focus their efforts on creating the best tasting products. They don’t require large factories or assembly lines, instead, they work the land to yield the best results. Buying local you may also begin to recognize how the seasons affect supply and when the best times are to buy various produce. The state of Florida has a very helpful website that documents what type of produce is grown and in which season. Being aware of these factors can also help you to find the best quality food.
There are so many benefits to shopping locally for food. Whether you start buying all of your products locally or just some, every step towards supporting your local businesses is a positive one. Keep an eye open for food stands or go online to find websites of your local farmers and businesses and start shopping!