Over the years I’ve been taught a lesson that food is medicine. This is something we have all heard before, but since developing several autoimmune diseases I’ve learned just how true it is. Reconnecting with food is so important if you want to feel good.
In my journey of reconnecting with food I have learned just how important organic is, and that organic still isn’t always the best. Organic means produce is not grown with conventional pesticides or herbicides, and that meat was not fed conventional grains or treated with hormones.
While this should be the standard for all foods, the even better option is to buy locally grown. So, why is local food better?
Benefits of buying locally grown food
- More nutritious
- Truly trust your food by knowing your farmer
- Support local farms and their families
- Sustainable agriculture
- Improve your local economy
Local Food is Better for You
The average meal from the grocery store has traveled 1500 miles . The longer produce is off the vine the more nutrition it loses with age. After traveling long distances, it then must last on a grocery store shelf.
To make all this possible, these foods are typically picked before they are ripe, and so they never had the chance to reach maximum nutritious potential. Also, these conventional foods may be chemically treated or irradiated to slow down the rotting process .
Foods grown for larger suppliers, like grocery stores are often grown for quantity not quality, because they need to meet the needs of their large amount of buyers.
Locally grown is typically picked within the last 24 hours at its peak ripeness. This is when its nutrition content is high and its flavors are wonderful. Locally grown is dependent on producing high quality produce to make it appealing to the small local market, which means it tastes wonderful and that quality is more important than quantity . At local markets, there’s often unusual or heirloom varieties that are fun to try too.
Is Local Food Better than Organic food?
When you buy local, you have the chance to get to know your farmer. Farming is labor of passion and you have the opportunity to talk directly with the farmer to find out how the food was grown or raised, and if it meets your standards. The list of chemicals allowed under the organic certification label continues to expand. Knowing where your food comes from builds confidence in what you are feeding your family.
Many small farmers haven’t the funds to apply for organic certification, yet they still farm organically. So, talk to the farmer so you can feel confident in your food. Organic certified, I do greatly support, but it’s not the end all be all. For example, chicken or beef is healthiest and better for our health when the animals can free range their whole lives.
Grain finishing creates an unnatural balance of fatty acids. Grass fed is higher in the healthy omega 3 fatty acids. Organic certified does not guarantee this, it just means that the animal was not given conventional gmo grain.
These animals also could still be living in tight quarters or being shipped out to cruel slaughter houses. The small farmer often hires a mobile butcher to come to their property and harvests the animal on the farm, which is a lot less stressful for the animal.
Love in Local Food
Supporting your local farmer just seems to make your food taste better too. You can feel the pride the farmer takes in growing great tasting food. Farming is hardwork, and your local farmers are generally very passionate about what they do, and it is rewarding to personally support their passion that supports their families. That rewarding feeling makes the food taste even better.
Is Local Food More Sustainable
When you to talk to your local farms, you can choose the farmers you want to support. You are able to choose to buy from the farmers that nurture and respect the land and animals. Organic farming requires keeping the soil healthy to keep the plants strong and free of disease.
Healthy soil makes healthy more nutritious plants and animals. Conventional farming depletes the soil, relies upon chemicals to reduce disease, and synthetic fertilizers for the crops to grow.
Additionally, the small local farmer often is diverse. They rely on more than one product, to support their farm. This provides the farmer greater financial security and is better for the environment. The small local farmer may grow many crops, raise a variety of livestock, and keep bees.
This is more harmonious with nature than mono-farming one large crop. Diverse farming use to be the standard, livestock helps fertilize the soil, variety of plants support the bees, supports microorganisms, and the soil . This diversity improves the health of the animals, plants, and soil. It is nature nurturing one another.
When we become dependent on expansive areas of land planted in the same crop, and there’s a failure what’s the fallback? Diversity is always best for food security and the environment.
Buying Local Meat
When it comes to meat, when you buy local you can also find out how the animals were treated. We buy our meat from a local ranch, they rotationally graze their animals on wild pasture grasses. They are not certified organic, however their practices are organic and natural to the animal. The animals are never fed an unnatural grain diet, and they are allowed to free range their whole life. When it’s time for harvest a butcher comes onto the farm.
The animals are never shipped out and stressed out at a slaughter house. We recently hired the same butchers that they used for our pigs. Our animals never made a noise, and if anyone is familiar with pigs they can be obnoxiously loud when they are stressed. The butcher assured us, they would never know it was coming.
How Does Local Food Support Our Community
When you buy from local farms, it doesn’t just help support the local hardworking farmers and their families, it also supports the whole community. Studies find that when money is spent locally, that local money is recirculated in the community.
This phenomenon is coined sticky dollars. A UC Davis study found, for every dollar earned by a farm that sold directly to their community .89 cents is reinvested back into the local economy, versus farms that didn’t sell directly to locals only .42 cents went back into the community. Also, buying from local farms created more jobs. Every 1 million dollars earned from buying locally grown food created 31 jobs . These numbers can vary across the country, but nevertheless it occurs nationwide.
What’s your opinion
Buying local is a great way to buy healthy food at a better price, and to connect with the season. In season food is at its peak freshness and maximum nutrition. Supporting local farmers growing healthy food, is not only good for us but the environment and the economy of your local community.
All these facts are fresh in my mind, because outside of this mama blog I have another project. A project to help small farmers sell their products and for us to find them easier. So, I am very passionate about this subject. Responsibly grown real food truly has been my saving grace to getting my health back.
There’s often more local food in your area, than you may be aware of. This was true for me, trying to locate locally grown food isn’t always simple. This is why, I am working on a project to improve finding local food. I want to know do you feel this way too? Do you find it rough to find local products near you?
In your opinion:
Do you find it difficult to find local food?
What would make it easier for you to buy more food locally?
There are many reasons I choose to buy local, and not everything I need is found locally but we do our best. I feel most comfortable knowing my food was grown well and respectfully, that my money is helping others and going back into the community. As a single mom I know about budget.
Food we treat as medicine and is our biggest expense, buying local can help offset the cost. Sometimes you can find great seasonal prices from your local farms with a little effort. If you want to find local food easier and support the local food movement, join the tribe and let us know what you are looking for.