According to the US Department of Agriculture, eating fruits and vegetables is great for your health. An essential part of eating fruits and vegetables is making sure they are fresh and one of the best ways to assure this is to eat locally grown produce. In addition to health benefits, eating local is also good for your community. Below are seven benefits of eating local produce:
1. Local Foods Are Fresher (and Tastes Better!)
When it comes to the freshness and quality of produce, locally grown options are hard to beat. Compared to produce that has been shipped in from far away, locally grown options are generally much fresher, which can translate to superior taste and nutritional value. This is because they are typically harvested at the peak of their ripeness, whereas produce that has to travel long distances may be picked before it is fully ripe. As a result, locally grown produce often has a richer flavor and higher nutrient content, making it a smart choice for those who prioritize health and flavor in their food choices.
2. Local Foods Are Seasonal
By choosing locally grown fruits and vegetables, you can enjoy the benefits of products that have been allowed to fully ripen without the use of artificial chemicals or gas. This means that the produce is not only healthier but also more flavorful, as it is allowed to mature naturally. Additionally, opting for produce in peak season means that it is more abundant and, therefore, more affordable, as local farms are able to offer their products at a lower cost due to reduced transportation expenses. Choosing locally-grown produce is a smart choice for both your health and your wallet.
3. Local Foods Help to Preserve Farmland and Green Space
When you choose to purchase vegetables and fruits that are locally grown, you are making a positive impact on the environment in your community. By supporting local farmers and their produce, you are helping to preserve valuable green spaces and farmland. This is because local farms rely on community support to maintain their operations and continue to provide fresh, high-quality produce. By choosing locally grown options, you can contribute to the sustainability of your community's food supply and help ensure that these valuable resources are protected for future generations.
4. Local Foods Promote Food Safety
The fewer processes between your produces’ source and your plate, the fewer the chances are for contamination. For example, if there is a large outbreak of e.coli in lettuce grown in California but the lettuce in your kitchen is from a local farm here in Alabama, you know your produce is safe to consume.
5. Local Foods Stimulate Variety
When farmers participate in local markets and supply to nearby restaurants, they are able to meet the demand for a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. This means that you as a consumer are able to enjoy a diverse selection of produce, rather than being limited to a single type of tomato or other fruit or vegetable. For example, by supporting local farms, you may be able to choose from a range of tomato varieties, including "lemon boys," "brandywines," and "early girls."
6. Local Foods Support Your Community’s Economy
Buying produce from local farmers and restaurants keeps your money close to home. This works to build the economy in your community instead of a corporation in another state or country. Since the produce travels through fewer hands, more of the money spent actually gets back to those who grew it.
7. Local Foods Create a Sense of Community
Buying locally grown produce and knowing where your food is from unites you to those who grow and raise it. Instead of having a relationship with a corporate supermarket, you develop smaller relationships to multiple food sources. Developing these personal relationships with growers at local farmer’s markets can be beneficial to you. For example, they can personally let you know when your favorite variety of bean will be available or when the strawberries you love will be on sale.
UAB Medical West is making it easy and convenient for you to get locally grown produce by hosting a Farmer’s Market right here at the hospital! Join Pinkston Farms on Level C every Wednesday from 9 A.M. until 4 P.M. for a large selection of fresh and local vegetables, fruits and plants - all at a reasonable price!