Veggie Vitality: The Health Benefits of Eating Local Produce
Studies show that consumption of locally grown fruits and vegetables can go far beyond individuals’ health benefits and actually aid in protecting the environment by preserving farmland and open community spaces. It can help promote social activity within communities and bolster local economies, too.
If you’re accustomed to breezing past your local farmer’s market, wondering what it is all those people are doing buying turnips and celery from those guys in overalls–well, there are probably lots of different answers.
But if you’re rethinking your skepticism about local produce for your own health’s sake–well, read on!
While there are, in fact, tons of benefits to eating locally grown produce, one factor that encourages lots of people to start eating locally is the ways in which local produce can help promote overall health.
Here are 3 of our favorite ways and reasons eating local fruits and veggies can help make you feel better!
1. Local Produce is in Season
Ever wonder how grocery stores manage to sell most produce year-round–even when there’s snow covering the ground? Well, the main reason this is possible is that many supermarkets and grocery stores sell produce that’s not in season.
When you buy produce from stores, there’s a good chance it’s been picked early, before it’s even had the chance to reach its full nutritional potential. Even if the produce you’re buying from that big chain supermarket is in season, it may have been flash-frozen at some point, or otherwise pumped full of preservatives aimed to make it last the shipment to the store.
Eating produce that’s sold at larger supermarkets when it’s out-of-season means you’re likely eating produce that isn’t offering its full nutritional value. It probably means the food has grown a little bit old, and it probably means that, even though you worked hard to eat healthily, you may not even come out of it feeling that much better!
Local produce is harvested and sold in season–often, you can get your hands on it within 24 hours of its being picked. Not only is it fresher, but most local growers put enough care into their produce that those fruits and veggies are harvested at their peak of growth and nutrition, so the stuff you’re eating is healthier, too.
When your produce is in season, it’s better all-around. Even if your local farmer’s market isn’t able to provide produce year-round, replacing the fruits and veggies you’d normally buy from the grocery store with produce that was locally grown while it’s in season can make a big difference in how you feel while you’re supporting your diet with the fresh stuff!
2. Local Produce is a Safer Bet
That’s not to say you should take out a couple thousand shares of stock in asparagus–but it’s important to note the potential risks associated with eating fruit and vegetables that have passed between lots of people and methods of storage.
The greater the amount of contact between food and people or food and storage methods, the greater the chance the food has of becoming contaminated. Produce that’s grown a few states or countries away offers plenty of opportunity for contact with contaminants in any stage of the process it takes to get that food in front of you. Harvesting, handling, shipping, storing, and distribution all offer ample opportunity for putting your produce at risk.
In addition, it’s important to note that the farther from your produce’s source you are, the less chance you have of really understanding what’s gone into the growing of your food. You won’t have the opportunity to inquire with your large supermarket chain about the ways in which the food was grown, fed, and harvested.
When purchasing local produce, you eliminate a lot of your food’s risk of contamination, since the food is typically only handled by a couple of people and sold nearby shortly after. You enable yourself to speak with the very people who have grown the food you’re about to eat, and who can answer any questions you may have about the safety of it.
Eating local produce decreases your chances of getting sick from it, and increases the chances you’ll feel great after eating it!
3. Local Produce Tastes Better!
Okay, so just because it tastes better doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for you–bacon taught us that. But local produce usually tastes better than generic, aged supermarket produce, which means you’ll be more likely to devour it, which is good for you!
Local produce isn’t genetically modified or mass-produced. It’s harvested when it’s supposed to be and eaten soon after it’s picked. It’s never frozen and rarely subject to preservatives. Quite simply, it’s delicious!
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans prescribe about 2.5 cups of fruits and veggies each day. This number comes out to the equivalent of approximately half of every meal’s plate consisting of fruits and vegetables. Are you getting that many? If not, maybe it’s because that produce you picked up from Walmart just isn’t ever tasty enough–unlike local produce is sure to be.
It’s super necessary to supplement lots of your diet with an awesome variety of produce. You’re way more likely to do this if you’re looking forward to eating those fruits and veggies. And anyway, don’t you deserve to treat yourself with food that tastes good?
The bottom line is that local produce is grown and harvested with far more care than most supermarket produce. As a result, local produce just…tastes better. If you’re really hoping to kick up your health game, eating more fresh produce is a great place to start. If you want that fresh produce to taste yummy, your local farmers market is a great place to start!
Want to Start Eating Local Produce?
Yum! We’re not surprised.
Eating local produce is a great way to support your community, the environment, and your personal health. Plus, it’s easy and delicious!
For more on the benefits of eating local, as well as other awesome health-hacking content, check out our blog!