What does buying local mean to you? It might mean that you shop at your local store and not drive to pick-up groceries. It could mean that you buy locally-grown food at your supermarket or farmers market or patronize a neighbourhood fishmonger or butcher.
When it comes to shopping local, it’s a win-win situation for everyone, including the environment.
Some benefits of shopping locally:
Walking to your local store reduces carbon emissions, it gets you active, and also helps you to get to know your local grocer, which builds for you a sense of community belonging.
Heading to your local market supports local trade. If it’s a farmers market, you can meet the farmer and ask any questions you may have about pesticide use, how long it has been since the produce was picked, and what’s going to be harvested in the future.
Shopping at local butchers or farms helps you answer questions and concerns about how the animals are treated, what they are fed and how fresh your meat or poultry is. My local butcher, Butcher By Nature, has visited the farms where their meat come from, which gives me confidence in what I’m buying for my family.
When produce travels far and wide, it’s treated differently than locally picked fruits and veggies. It’s picked earlier, before it ripens or nears its peak, harvests are sprayed to keep bugs at bay during travel, and wrapped or packaged for transportation. All of that makes for a loss of nutrients, less flavourful produce, more chemicals on your food, as well as packaging that may not be recyclable.
Eating produce that’s in season is the perfect way to ensure you are eating local. And freezing and canning are great ways to make the most of seasonal fruits and vegetables.
I recently went to a “Farmers Feed Cities” event and was thoroughly impressed by the quality of local produce, fish, poultry and meat, honey and even artisan cheese from Ontario and Quebec. It was some of the tastiest food that I have eaten in a while.
My family and I had the pleasure of attending a friend’s wedding a few weeks ago and they hired a caterer who only works with local and sustainable produce. It was beyond delicious, flavourful and colourful. I found it inspiring to see beet salad, green beans, bison burgers, bread made from local wheat, and pie made from rhubarb, wild blueberries and cherries.
Are you drooling yet?
Being a local-vore can start with making one or two choices as you shop. Maybe visit a local market on the weekend and see what’s on offer. Look out for “local” signs at supermarkets or buy from the roadside. Every little bit adds up. No matter what you do, you’ll feel and taste the benefit.
Image Copyright: stephaniefrey / 123RF Stock Photo
This post originally appeared on iVillage.