Green Groceries: 9 Reasons To Eat Local

If I were to ask you how eco-friendly the food you buy at the grocery store is, you would probably dutifully point out the “organic” label on the fruits and vegetables and perhaps even some cereals and crackers.

For argument’s sake though, let’s examine the reality of how green and even (gasp!) nutritious these foods really are.

Is it environmentally friendly to buy organic oranges from Florida in the middle of a Minnesota winter? What about the shipping costs (and fuel expended) and the extra shelf time? By the time it reaches you, it’s passed through the many stages of handling that has decreased its nutrient value greatly.

What if we embraced a different way of eating — one closer to our ancestors and certainly much better for us. What if we ate local, and in season?

I see your wheels turning. You’re thinking, what if I need apples in February? Or a salad for Christmas? Heaven knows I don’t have time to can food for the winter . . . what on earth will we eat?

I know, it’s a big change, and for you it might not be feasible to eat locally all year long; however, if you make it a habit to buy food from your area farmers during the growing season, I guarantee that the health of you and your family will be dramatically impacted for good. And just for an idea, why not try a small indoor container garden for the winter? You can grow salad greens and herbs in any sunny window and it’s fun for the kids.

Here are some real reasons to patronize your local farmers:

1. Builds a sense of community. Remember the days of the milkman, the butcher shop, and the bakery? Probably not, because they’re long gone. The beauty of getting your food in your own area is that you can once again have a relationship with the people that bring you your life-food. You can shake hands with the man or woman that grew it.

2. You know where your food is coming from and how it’s grown — the ultimate quality check. Don’t want hormones or antibiotics in your chicken and beef? Fine, visit the farm to see what they’re eating, talk to other customers, get to know the farmer. It’s an awesome synergistic relationship; the farmer can’t survive without you (the customer) so he’ll want to be honest and trustworthy.

3. Freshest you can get — often within hours. Whether you buy at the farmers market or drive to the farm, chances are that the produce was picked within the past 24 hours. Sure beats traveling thousands of miles for weeks at a time, doesn’t it?

4. Preserves rural land and a way of life that are important to our culture and our environment. If we’re not careful, we’ll lose much of our beautiful countryside to development. Supporting family farms helps to save that land for future generations.

5. Shows the government that we do care about our food supply. Unfortunately the government doesn’t always make the best decisions for our food. If you care about avoiding antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified food, then you can “cast your food vote” by buying from local people that practice natural methods of raising food.

6. Provides meaningful local employment. Farming is an honorable profession. A community that works with their farmers is a rich one indeed.

7. Your dollar goes farther because it lasts longer. Have you ever brought a bag of grapes home from the grocery store only to discover a day or two later that they’ve developed mold already? Gross. Because local food is so fresh, it’ll keep in the fridge longer than grocery store stuff.

8. It tastes better! Seriously.

9. It feels good. Make a difference in your family, community, and farmer’s family.

Local Harvest has a search feature that will allow you to look up farmers in your area that grow the food you’re interested in.

Good ahead — try it. It’s the natural way, after all.

This post made its premiere on the DreamChaser blog, where Bri likes to hang out and muse about writing, sustainable agriculture, and dream attainment.

*Photo courtesy of Chris Jernigan

3 Responses to Green Groceries: 9 Reasons To Eat Local
  1. Annie - Hip Organic Mama
    March 11, 2009 | 5:41 pm

    I do think it’s important to patron local farmers. True farms who have a diverse harvest and grow organically or, even better, biodynamically, are supporting our eco-system, a healthy planet, and offer us the best available. It’s not really so much of food miles because as we all know, Walmart has built a, rather successful as we know, business based solely on shipping material to China for import back as cheap product. We need to remember that buying a local tomato doesn’t admonish other purchases for cheap products. We need to have conscious spending in products and in our food.

    We should support local farms of course, sadly, however, real farmers that harvest diverse crops are few these days, unless you are in California. Most small farms collapse into big agri-businesses or are forced into the great subsidized crops like corn which blankets the U.S.

    I also feel that there is a lot of, I don’t want to say deception but it verges on that in the grocery store and in how food gets into our homes in general. I wrote a post about it here if you are interested:

    Along the same lines I wrote a post on staying lean and green: where I offer some tips for getting good food on a budget.

    Thanks for the great posts!

  2. Checking In With The Sisters!
    March 14, 2009 | 10:23 am

    […] to our economy and our health when we shop locally and eat seasonally in the enlightening post Green Groceries: 9 Reasons To Eat Local. Wedding season is among us once again! And, if you have a daughter of any age, you will want to […]

  3. Jennifer-Liv Healthy
    March 21, 2009 | 1:01 am

    You’re right, we are very spoiled, having access to most fruits and vegetables year round. I once remember someone in the grocery industry telling me that Canadians are the most demanding for having access to a big selection of produce year round (I’m not sure if that still holds true today)

    I love your idea of having a container garden indoors- never thought of that, and it’s so simple!

    There are some great organic foodshare programs out there where you can buy a “share” of food from a local organic farm. Plan B is one in the Hamilton, Ontario area.