The benefits of including fresh and organic foods in our diet are hardly a secret. Organic foods provide a solid foundation to lead a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle. When you consume a more nutritious, “closer to the source” diet, your body can feel the positive difference! Unfortunately, we are so caught up in the daily grind that it is difficult to pay attention to where our food comes from.
Eating locally instead of “commercially-manufactured” produce can have significant benefits on your health. As the growing season gets into full swing, you can see your neighborhood farmer markets overflowing with fresh veggies, seasonal fruits, and locally crafted cheeses.
Here are the top 8 reasons why eating farm-fresh foods can be a healthier choice for you.
Farm-Fresh Foods are Fresher
Conventional produce often travels hundreds of miles before it reaches your plate. In contrast, healthy foods that are grown locally don’t have to be trucked in from faraway places. Many times, the local produce gets picked within hours or days of your purchase, rather than weeks in advanced, as much commercial produce. Depending on the product, this makes them juicier, fresher, sweeter, and tastier. This is because the enzymes found in vegetables and fruits start breaking down quickly after harvest. This results in moisture loss, potential microbial spoilage, and shorter shelf life. A shorter time between the harvest and your table makes local foods a healthier, more nutrient-dense alternative.
Locally Grown Produce are More Nutritious
Supermarket produce gets grown and processed to keep its shelf life as high as possible -nutritional benefits may not factor into the decision. As mentioned earlier, these food items have to sit at distribution centers for longer durations before they make it to a supermarket shelf. This robs them of their nutrients in the process. For instance, vitamin-rich veggies such as spinach contain Vitamin A, B, C, and E, plus other minerals. The longer it takes for these veggies to reach you, the fewer nutrients they retain. By choosing locally produced food, you eat healthy foods at their peak of freshness when the nutrients are at their highest.
Fresh-Picked Food Has More Time to Properly Ripen
Since commercially grown produce travels from far to reach your local supermarkets, it is harvested before it is fully ripened. This is done to keep it from spoiling over the long-distance transport it must endure. The produce is plucked before it is ready while also being sprayed with plant hormones once it reaches the distribution centers to turn the ripening process back on again. This artificial ripening process gives the produce a lesser chance to retain the flavor, moisture, and nutrients that it should have. On the other hand, since locally-produced foods don’t have to travel longer distances, they get enough time to be on the vine to ripen properly and naturally, without the artificial hormonal treatments. In the end, what you get when you get your produce from a local farmer is nutrient-dense and richer-tasting produce.
Without a doubt, the best time to eat any produce is when it’s in season. Think about it. Would you rather have chemically-tasting strawberries all-year-round or fresh and juicy ones when they are in season? Seasonal eating has a positive impact on our health as it becomes more in sync with the climate we live in. When food is grown closer to the consumer, you are more likely to be introduced to unique food items that can be found only in your area. Discovering healthy food which is locally sourced is an excellent way to gain insights into the food history. You can also learn about the agricultural practices of your community as you discover your new favorite ingredient or food. Not to forget, eating seasonally allows us to try a variety of new dishes on the menu.
Cares for the Environment
As locally sourced food travels a shorter distance compared to supermarket produce, it results in fewer carbon emissions and less pollution. When you choose farmer fresh produce, you do your part for the planet by contributing to environmentally-conscious living. Besides, a lot of industrial-scale produce comes in plastic packing to sustain them for longer times. This results in a lot of packaging and plastic waste. In contrast, a lot of farmers’ fresh markets sell their produce without packaging. You can take along any reusable bags to carry your shopping back home. All these healthy practices together can make a big difference for the health of our planet.
Less Chemical Pesticides
Large industrial firms produce crops on a much larger scale as compared to local farmers. They tend to use high quantities of pesticides that often get sprayed aerially on the entire field for rich produce. Conversely, local farmers often grow their produce on small to medium-size farms. They use lesser fertilizers and chemicals to grow their produce and avoid any processing or artificial ripening hormones. Local produce uses plenty of natural resources and relies on constant monitoring for a healthy crop. It is for this reason most chefs prefer locally sourced ingredients for their avant-garde recipes.
Local farms adopt the most sustainable agricultural methods to grow their produce. From organic farming to regenerative agriculture and bio-intensive farming, they ensure the crops receive the healthiest resources possible. These practices give the soil a diverse array of microorganisms needed to make the produce sustainable and healthier. Maintaining the green spaces of local farms also boosts biodiversity that is critical to healthy ecosystems.
Locally grown foods are fresher, more nutritious, and beneficial for the environment as well. If you wish to switch to eating healthy foods, your local farmers’ market can be a good place to start.
Michael Davis is a best-selling cookbook author and a food blogger who often posts extremely healthy recipes on his social media pages. He aims to help inspire his readers to realize that they never have to sacrifice their taste buds for the sake of good health. He loves coming up with delicious meal options for his health-conscious followers in most of his personal “me time.”