Over and over again we hear the mantra “shop local.” And it makes good sense; we want local shops to stay in business. But what about “eat local”? What does that mean and how is it different than shopping local?
Eating local means eating food that is grown and produced locally. It might mean seeking out farmer’s markets, dairy farms, or local farmers for your meat, dairy and produce. Some have tried to do this by following the 100-Mile Diet (www.100milediet.org), where you eat only foods made within 100 miles of where you live. But that can be frustrating if there is food you like that is not made or grown locally.
So the Post would like to challenge you to take baby steps. How about trying out some of our local farms and farm markets, starting with the ones advertising on this page? Over the next few weeks, we’ll give you some good reasons to give it a try.
Reason #1: Taste the difference.
At a farmers’ market, most local produce has been picked inside of 24 hours. It comes to you ripe, fresh, and with its full flavor, unlike supermarket food that may have been picked weeks or months before. Close-to-home foods can also be bred for taste, rather than withstanding the abuse of shipping or industrial harvesting.
Reason #2: Know what you are eating.
Buying food today is complicated. What pesticides were used? Is that corn genetically modified? Was that chicken free range or did it grow up in a box? People who eat locally find it easier to get answers. Many build relationships with farmers whom they trust. And when in doubt, they can drive out to the farms and see for themselves.
Reason #3: Meet your neighbors.
Local eating is social. Studies show that people shopping at farmers’ markets have 10 times more conversations than their counterparts at the supermarket. Join a community garden and you’ll actually meet the people you pass on the street.
Reason #4: Get in touch with the seasons.
When you eat locally, you eat what’s in season. You’ll remember that cherries are the taste of summer. Even in winter, comfort foods like squash soup and pancakes just make sense–a lot more sense than flavorless cherries from the other side of the world.
(Info from www.100milediet.org.)