Why Eat Local?
Why does it matter where our food is grown? We can go to the supermarket and buy products from nearly every country on the planet. We prize ethnic food from many different cultures. It can be really exciting to expose our taste buds to a plethora of flavors!
In itself, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this sophisticated palate. But there are a few reasons to pay close attention to what foods are grown in your region, and to maximize use of them.
1. Flavor: There’s no flavor comparison between a ripe tomato, picked red from your garden, and one picked green and trucked across the country. The same holds true for asparagus, corn, and any other vegetables.
2. Health: The more real foods you eat, as opposed to packaged foods, the healthier you and your family will be. In this way, a basic meat-and-potatoes menu is likely to add fewer preservatives and additives to your diet. (To say nothing of keeping packaging material hitting the landfill!)
3. Economy: Buying food from local farmers helps keep the local economy rolling. So often we complain about outsourced jobs while not making an effort to support those who are trying to make a living right next door! This goes for artisans as well as producers.
4. Security: Growing and preserving food in season for your family helps insure you’ll have quality meals all year. We live in a mountainous region with few through roads. All it takes is a good-sized blizzard to close those highways and the grocery trucks can’t get through. Supermarkets don’t store much in their warehouses! Those shelves get bare mighty fast, so it’s nice to know you won’t go hungry if the worst happens.
Of course there are dozens of other good reasons to be a locavore! When my family gathers around the table, the source of the food always seems to come up. “That’s the last tomato from the garden.” “This is one of the chickens we bought from Randy.” “We made this jam from the berries we picked on our camping trip.” It’s a great feeling.
In fact, striving to eat a mostly locally-based diet has become a strong part of our life. It helps we live on a farm in an area known for orchards, market gardens, and grain fields. I know not everyone is so fortunate, but everyone can make some changes to get closer to this ideal.
I believe so strongly in this way of life that it has become a central theme to the novels I write. Check out my novel Raspberries and Vinegar for some idea of how this plays out in my fiction.