5 Reasons you should switch to locally-produced foods

Oct 26, 2015 at 7:45 p.m. ET
Image: Betsie Van Der Meer/Getty Images

When you walk down the aisles of your local grocery store the food you typically see has traveled thousands of miles before landing on the shelves. But if you choose to become a locavore abd buy locally-grown and produced foods, the value extends beyond just having fresh eggs or in-season veggies.

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In fact, eating locally-produced foods can do a world of good for both your body and the environment.

1. Richer flavour

Whether it's produce or animal products, no food that has sat on a truck for days can beat the taste of freshly-picked or locally-raised food. If it comes from a local farm, it was most likely picked within a few days, if not hours, before hitting your plate. Meaning, it was ripened to perfection before it was picked and not while it was waiting on a shelf somewhere.

2. Healthier and more nutritious food

Eating a vegetable that was picked yesterday will be much more worthwhile nutritiously than one picked weeks ago as the nutrients diminish over time. Also, locally grown food is often raised organically — meaning no harmful pesticides and chemicals. You know exactly what you're putting in your body which is something we can't say about most food nowadays.

3. Good for the environment

Imagine all the energy conserved and pollution avoided if food didn't have to be shipped all around our planet. By eating food nearby you are decreasing contaminants in the soil, chemical runoff, air pollution and fuel used. What an amazing trade-off for merely eating fresher, better foods.

4. Keeps your money close to home

Locavores don't just help the environment, they help the economy. By supporting local farmers, artisans, and merchants, your money is going right back into your own neighborhood. Frequenting local markets leads to a rewarding sense of community.

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5. It's easy to make the switch to being a locavore

If you've shopped at chain grocery stores your whole life, converting into a locavore may seem daunting. But it's really not.

Hit up the local farmers' market

A quick Internet search can find you one near you. Instead of your weekly trip to the store, browse through a farmers' market over the weekend and score the freshest foods possible. Also, with no middle man grocer, you might find your shopping is cheaper, too. Not to mention the amazing free samples!

Freeze foods for later use

If you know you're always going to want a certain food but it's not in season all year, freeze or can it. Not only will you still get that fresh taste, you avoid the crazy grocery store mark-ups. Also, prep meals and freeze them ahead of time for an easy fix when you can't make it to the market. If you can't do this, it is better to only buy out-of-season foods from other places, and keep everything else local.

Support local artisans

Even those fancier meats, breads, and cheeses can be local. Select stores have local sections where delicious, handmade local foods can be found. The animals are most often treated better by these smaller, local artisans and you know the food is made with integrity.

Use a delivery service

Many cities now have services that will drop off fresh, locally-produced food right to your doorstep. You can get everything you need, even pantry items and baked goods, all without having to leave your house. Buying in bulk also will save you money and trips in your car to the store.

Become a member of a CSA

A community-supported agriculture membership is essentially a community of families that together fund a farm to produce a weekly or bi-weekly subscription of food. Some will give you just produce, others can provide you with all your meat and dairy needs as well. The deliveries are all sent to one place in the middle of your community and all you have to do is go pick it up.

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