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Eat Local Food

Nowadays, people get more and more concerned about the quality and the freshness of the foods they eat. Eating food grown locally makes a lot of sense especially for those who want to have more control over what they eat and how it gets to their kitchen and on their plate.

What does it mean ‘local food'?
'Local' is a very flexible term as it means different things to different people - some refer to a small area (usually the size of a city and its surroundings), for others the term is wider as it is food that was grown/produced within an area bound by a 50, 100 or 150 mile radius (i.e. cca 85, 160 or 240 km respectively - usually food from their region, or country). Some farms m ay see the local area even wider, within a day's driving because it is a reasonable distance to transport goods - 400 miles (cca 640 km) isa DGD (day-goods-distance). As these numbers vary a lot and may become confusing, the basic idea about local food that should be kept in mind is simple: local food is produced as close to home as possible.
Local food integrates production, processing, distribution and consumption on a small scale, creating sustainable local economies and a strong connection between farm and table.

Locavores or localvores is a special term sometimes used to describe those who prefer to eat locally grown/produced food.


Why to eat local?

When surfing on the internet, you will find countless websites and blogs stating reasons why buying and eating local food is rewarding. In short, eating local food is better for you and for the environment but let's see more in details why it is so.
  • Local food is fresher, it tastes and looks better, and it is more nutritious
Local food is fresher and tastes better than food that has been transported from thousands of miles away. At farmers ' markets, most products have been picked within 24 hours of your purchase therefore it comes to you fresh, and with its full and real flavor. The freshness not only affects the taste of the food, but the nutritional value as well w hich declines with time. Moreover, fresh food lasts longer.
  • Local food means better health

Local food is often safer. Even when it's not organic, local farmers tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms with using the pesticides and fertilizers. Small farmers are also more likely to grow more variety of foods, thus protecting biodiversity and preserving a wider agricultural gene pool, which is an important factor in long-term food security.

  • Local food promotes food safety
Food with less distance to travel to get to you has less susceptibility to harmful contamination. Moreover, local farmers aren't anonymous and they take their responsibility to the consumer seriously, therefore care a lot for the quality of the food they sell.
  • Local food has less environmental impact
Have you ever thought about those thousands of kilometers your food needs to travel sometimes to get to your plate? During this crossing of the world a huge amount of fossil fuel is burned, releasing pollutants that contribute to global climate change, acid rain, air and sea pollution. In order to keep products from spoiling during these long journeys, they need to be refrigerated which again consumes some more fossil fuel. That leads to a big carbon footprint. Eating locally grown food helps in the fight against global warming as it eliminates the need for all the long distance fuel-burning transportation of the supermarket food. Buying local food means keeping the 'food miles' to a minimum which leads to minimizing your food's environmental impact.
  • Local food preserves open green space and farm land
Another environmental reason is that by buying foods originating from closer to where you live, you help to maintain green space and farm land in your area.
  • When eating local food you know what is on your plate
One of the biggest benefits of buying food locally is meeting someone to answer all the questions about where does it come from, how it was grown, raised or produced. Knowing where your food is from connects you to the people who raise and grow it.
  • Eating local food makes you follow the seasons
Eating locally means eating seasonally and by eating with the seasons, you are eating foods which are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.
  • Local food means more for the local economy
By buying local fo ods you help to build your local economy instead of handing the money over to a corporation in another city or country. Buying locally or directly from farmers can considerably increase a farmer's income as the number of intermediaries involved in the process between buyer and seller is reduced to a minimum. Moreover, farmers do not need to spend so much money on transportation, processing, packaging, refrigerat ion and marketing of the products when selling locally which means lowering their costs and increasing their income.


How to find and where to buy local food?

  • Local farmers' markets or farm - the number of such local markets is growing, try to search for them in your neighborhood or city and you will besurprisedhow many you find. There are also websites providing lists and contacts to local farms in many countries (sometimes even with the possibility to buy online), i.e.:
  • Locally owned grocery and natural foods stores
  • Buy family farmed or fair trade products when local is unavailable
And what to do now?
Start small. Maybe by purchasing one thing locally each week or each month. No one is asking you to eat strictly and only local food because "there are things it makes sense to import because we can't grow them here, and they're either good for us or really delicious or both. But it doesn't make sense to watch local apple orchards go out of business while our stores are filled with imported mealy apples. And if you spend a few weeks each year without the pleasures of imported delicacies, you really do learn a whole lot about your foodshed, about your place, about what you're swallowing on a daily basis." (*) - Jessica Prentice (cook and writer who coined the term ´locavore´)


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