Over the last decade, there has been a significant shift in the way that people eat and how they plan their meals. In general, people are starting to eat more organic, healthier and fresher foods. More and more people are starting to shy away from the mass-produced products found on grocery shelves and are starting to purchase fresh foods straight from the source.
Unhealthy eating is one of the largest current contributors to illnesses and even deaths in the US. In fact, statistics show that over 678,000 deaths a year are caused by unhealthy eating in the US alone. Obesity rates are sky-rocketing, with the rate having quadrupled in adolescents in the last thirty years. Diabetes, a disease that is directly linked to an unhealthy diet is one of the leading causes of blindness and amputations in the US.
So, with all of this in mind, we thought we would take a look at the major benefits that come with sourcing your foods and products locally. We included the impacts that it will have on you, as well as others when you buy local.
It is More Nutritious for You
The food that you buy locally will certainly hold more nutritional value for you. Store-bought products are produced on a mass scale. They have had to be grown with a higher yield kept in mind, which means that the irrigation, fertilization, and pesticides are increased. This severely undermines the nutrient count found in all of the grown vegetables and fruits. Studies done on various kinds of wheat show decreases of at least 30 to 50% of amino acids, proteins, and calciums over the last 30 years. The increase in mass products has essentially rapidly decreased the level of quality products we are purchasing.
Products that come from your local farm, for example, will have significantly fewer substances added to them when they are grown. In addition to this, they are less likely to be genetically modified. Food products that have gone through the GMO process lose an incredible amount of nutritional value in order to make it more attractive for consumers to buy. They are modified to last longer, not contain seeds, hold a certain color and have a more attractive shape.
Food that is produced on a local farm, however, will most likely be GMO-free. You can rather expect to find pasture-raised pork, GMO-free eggs, and wholesome grass-fed beef. This is key to look out for if you are wanting to overhaul your eating patterns. The more the animals have been allowed to roam, and feed on natural grass, the healthier the meat will be for you.
It is Fresher and of Higher Quality
Because you are buying the food locally, they tend to be fresher than those bought in a grocery store. Not only have those products traveled distances to be on the shelves, but they have also been stored for a while and received treatment to last longer. Locally bought products are produced within the vicinity that you are buying them from. They usually do away with additives and preservatives, so they will not last as long as other products, but you will know that go straight from the farm to your plate.
Locally sought food also means that you are buying food in season. Out of season products are usually frozen and transported, greatly impacting the integrity and quality of the products that you are buying. It is more advisable to buy fresh and eat within a few days for you to get the most out of the food that you are consuming. Seasonal foods are actually more important for you that you know and the natural cycle of food growth is actually set per season. In summer you usually turn to the cooler fruits and vegetables, whereas in winter, you will crave the heartier higher fat foods and roots.
You are Supporting Local Businesses and Waste Reduction
Mass-produced food may be cheaper to buy, especially from grocery stores, but what you don’t know is that the money that you are spending is going into the packaging, transportation and “corporate” costs, more than it is going into your actual food. When you buy locally, you are ensuring that the money spent goes back into producing more food for you as well as into a smaller business which relies on regular customers to stay in business.
Waste is also one of the bigger concerns for mass production. Due to the fact that everything has to be stocked, stored and transported, everything will need to be packaged. This creates a significant amount of waste. Local farms, stores or markets encourage plastic-free storage and you usually pick your fresh vegetables and fruits and take them home in a brown bag.
It is Better for the Environment and Food Supply Chain
The last thing to consider when you are buying locally is that you are supporting sustainable agriculture. As mentioned before, mass production heavily impacts not only the food but the soil, making it necessary to make excessive use of fertilizers, irrigation, and pesticides to encourage a swift turn-over. Not only does it have dire effects on the land that it is being grown on, but on water supplies too. In order for mass production to keep up with the unprecedented demand for mass-produced products, agricultural production will need to grow by at least 70% by 2050.
Mass production of meat is also a key concern for environmentalists. Livestock farming horror stories aside, mass meat production is a huge burden to wheat and water supplies and contributes significantly to pollution too. The amount of wastage in mass-produced meat is astounding too. Over 50% of the cow is wasted for beef, over 60% of pork and almost 70% of chicken goes to waste. Local farms encourage a more sustainable approach, ensuring that production meets the demand, wastage is dramatically decreased and the animals are farmed in better conditions than mass producers.
Despite the fact that it might cost more and might not be as efficient to simply pop into the grocery store on the way home, locally bought food has significantly more advantages than store-bought. Not only are you contributing to a small business and families, but you are considering the environment and future of our planet. If efficiency is what you are looking for, there are a number of online stores that allow you to purchase and get freshly grown products delivered to your door.