Written by Cheyenne Watts | Reviewed by Alyssa Tucci MS, RDN, CDN, CLT
Main Article: The Locavore Movement
Being a "locavore" means one is part of a movement which aims to connect food producers and food consumers in the same geographic region, in order to develop more self-reliant and resilient food networks. Locavorism can improve local economies and can have a positive impact on the health, environment, community, and society of a particular place.
WHY LOCAL FOOD?
Local food is healthier! Food produced on local farms does not have to travel as far as supermarket produce does, which means it is fresher, riper, tastier, and more nutrient-dense than its supermarket counterparts. Commercial tomatoes which are almost always picked unripe can’t compare to a tomato from your garden.
Also, since local food does not travel far, fewer harmful pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere by vehicles transporting food, therefore reducing the carbon footprint. Fewer pesticides and chemical preservatives are used on locally grown crops as well, and many local farmers whom locavores turn to for their source of food use the crop rotation method which keeps the soil in good condition rather than depleting it. The combination of local farming techniques and short travel distances makes the food consumed more likely to be organic and fresh. Foods grown locally and usually sold at farmers markets only when they are in season, meaning the shopper will experience a wider variety of produce throughout the year.
Produce is not the only thing that should be purchased locally. Locally raised grass-fed beef and bison, pasture-fed pork and lamb, and free range chicken and their eggs contain significantly more omega-3s than their mass produced counterparts. This means the meat contains more beneficial attributes than just protein! If you’re lucky enough to live near water, you may be able to find locally caught seafood. Wild-caught fish (especially cold water varieties) are an excellent source of omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for human health, but the body can't make them. You have to get them through food. Omega-3s are found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and halibut, some plants, and nut oils. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of heart disease.
If everything I’ve said so far isn’t reason enough for us to shop and eat locally, check this out: People who live in areas where locally-sourced food is readily available tend to have lower overall rates of obesity, diabetes, and mortality, according to the CDC.
Now, you may be interested in becoming a “locavore” yourself! Here are some ways to acquire locally grown food that are guaranteed to shake up your routine:
• Shop at farmer’s markets.
• Visit local farms.
• Visit “pick your own” farms.
• Join a food co-op (member-owned and operated grocery stores) or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture groups—they are organized arrangements that allow consumers to buy food directly from the farmers)
• Grow your own food (using a window herb garden or a pot on a terrace)
• Forage for wild plants.
• Go fishing.
Eating locally can help to improve health, support the community, and save money. And, local food tastes great too!