The term "local" has become a household word over the years creating much allure around its novelty. When we hear the word local paired with anything from construction materials to food it usually signifies a higher degree of quality and value, but what does it actually represent?
"Local" in regards to food, simply means being sourced from a location close to where the items are being purchased by consumers. A place like a farmers market would be considered direct to consumer trade where the people who grow the food receive a direct stream of currency without the high cost of a middleman, which would be shippers and grocery stores. People enjoy this way of shopping for food because it puts them more in touch with their food, how it's grown, and the people who care for the whole process of cultivation. This also provides the greatest support to farmers and in turn, helps them run their business more effectively.
The freshness of ingredients is also a massive factor in a persons decision to buy local produce. When food is traveling a shorter distance to be sold, it can be given more time to ripen on the vine or in the dirt as nature intended. This greatly improves the quality, taste, and nutritional value of the food we eat.
Farmers Markets are set up all over America for people in a community to shop for food in a more traditional way. A quick google search of farmers markets in your area should make it incredibly easy for you to track one down for your own food supply. Not everyone has the time to do this since farmers markets typically aren't set up and available like grocery stores are, but if you can find time to stop by during their hours of operation, you will be pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the experience can be. Supporting the people who grow our food directly is the best way to keep business alive that does not grow on a large scale basis. Better treatment and reverence to the land can be upheld by smaller family-owned farms.
Health food stores that sell local produce are more common than you might think. As we mentioned above, if your schedule doesn't align with the farmer's markets, you should be able to find local produce at your local health food store. Even markets like whole foods typically have signs posted in their produce and fresh sections of the store informing their customers on where their food comes from. This makes it easy to choose local!
Buying the bulk of your produce from local farms or farmers markets is a great start and effort to make in your grocery shopping. Sometimes we can't be perfect with how we shop and consume, but this is certainly a noble effort!
Grow Your Own!
No matter how small your living space, there is always a way to grow your own herbs and especially to sprout your own food. Potting plants will definitely take up a little more time than sprouting but can definitely be a fun activity on the weekends since we are living very indoor lifestyles these days. If that isn't an interest or option for you, we couldn't recommend sprouting more. All you need for this is a sprouting jar, which is complete in and of itself- nothing more or less is needed to put it to immediate use! If you can't find one of these or don't feel like ordering it online, you can always use a mason jar, a rubber band, and a cheesecloth- that's it! By soaking your seeds or legumes in water overnight, draining them, then rinsing them two to three times a day, you are on your way to fresh produce (micro-greens) grown by you, in your kitchen, in literally a couple of days. This is such a fun, easy, and affordable way to grow fresh, nutritious food anywhere in the country. Please give this a whirl and let us know what you think! The kids will love it, too!
Environmental Benefits & Seasonal Eating
One of the greatest aspects of eating local is the huge reduction that takes place to your carbon footprint. When produce only has to move within state lines, not across the country, or -seriously- from other parts of the world, far less oil, emissions, and natural resources are being used to supply you with your food. Eating foods that only grow within certain times of the year is another great way to stick to the local program and avoid importing non-domestic goods.
When we are mindful of the way our food is grown and cultivated, we are making such an incredible effort to improve the quality of our lives, the lives of the people who supply us with sustenance, and the health of the planet. None of us are perfect, but we can all start by doing the best we can with the options available to us.