Nutrition plays such an integral role in your health and fitness. Not only does your diet affect your performance in the gym and in sports, but it’s what gives you energy and fuels all your bodily functions so that you’re in good working order in your day-to-day life. While most diets under the sun have been debated, there hasn’t been much talk on eating locally grown food.
If you’re looking to fuel your body with good nutrition, whether it’s to improve your health or enhance your athletic performance, then consider eating locally grown foods. Doing so means you’ll get incredibly fresh, seasonal food whilst supporting local business and the environment at the same time.
In this article, we talk about the steps you can take to start incorporating locally grown food in your diet and the benefits that you’ll see because of it.
A guide to eating locally grown food
Become familiar with local foods
Depending on your geographical location, you’ll have different locally grown foods to others. The first step is to know what foods can be grown in your local region as well as the time of the year that they’re grown. This way, you have an idea of the seasonal foods and what’ll be available to you during different months.
Visit local farmers market or community garden
You may have a farmers market in your area that you can visit. Farmers market typically consists of local growers or farmers that sell their produce for those looking for locally grown foods. This is a great way to have access to fresh and seasonal foods, while supporting local businesses.
Some communities also have a community garden in which the residents grow and harvest their own fresh produce. You can visit or even start one yourself so you can have easy access to fresh food.
If you’re purchasing items that are packaged, then look at where the food came from. Checking the country of origin label is a simple and easy way to determine if the food was grown and packaged overseas or not. Thinking about where the food you’re consuming comes from, is a great way to start eating local.
Benefits to eating locally grown foods
If you’ve started including locally grown food into your diet, here are some of the benefits that you may see:
Access to fresh and nutritious food
As soon as a product is picked or harvested, the nutrition value immediately starts to decrease. So you can imagine with store-bought food, the amount of time that has passed from when it was picked to having to transport it to stores, get it packaged and shelved. By the time it gets to your plate, it won’t have as much nutrition as it could have.
Eating local food means that you’ll be able to have access to foods when they are at their most ripe. These foods would have been picked in the past 24 hours, ready to be sold. Fresh food also means that it has its highest nutrition value. So, if you purchase locally grown food, you can be rest assured that it hasn’t been harvested weeks ago and only 24 hours. There will be a much shorter window between purchasing your products and eating them during meal times.
Not to mention, fresh food does always taste more delicious. This is because at the peak of their ripeness, they’re also the most full of flavor. So, it’s definitely a win-win.
Enjoy eating seasonally
Eating seasonally is a great way to ensure that you meet your body’s needs with fresh and nutritious food. Not all food grows all year round and some only grow during certain times of the year. By eating seasonal foods and what is available at the time, you’ll be going back to a natural way of eating for humans.
For example, in winter, do you often crave hearty soups and stews that can warm you up and want cooler, juicy fruits and vegetables in the summertime when the sun is up? Eating seasonally means that you’ll be giving your body exactly what it needs and craves according to the time of the year. And the best part about this means that all the produce you want will be available.
Discover new foods
The supermarket tends to serve the same types of food, but there are so many different varieties of fruits and vegetables that are available that people don’t know about because they’re not sold in shops. For example, did you know that there are actually thousands of varieties of apples and pears in the world?
While supermarkets may be limited in what types of fruit and vegetables you can get, you can bet that there will be different types of these foods that are harvested by farmers and available at your local market.
Being open to eating locally grown foods means that you can discover new foods, broaden your palate and maybe even become more creative in the kitchen.
The United States throws away nearly 40 million tons, or 80 billion pounds, of food waste. And not all the food that is discarded should have been. There’s so much confusion around ‘use by’ dates or expiration dates that means more food gets tossed. Not to mention, if fruits and vegetables are bruised or don’t meet the high appearance standard, they generally get discarded as well.
Investing in locally grown foods requires less packaging waste and transportation, environmental pollution. Also, it enables food that are safe and edible but don’t meet supermarket appearance standards to still be sold and eaten. You’ll be doing your part to decrease waste as well as help the environment.
Eating locally grown food means that you can fuel your body with the most nutritious and delicious meals. By becoming involved in community gardens or visiting your farmers market, you can get access to not only food when they’re at their ripest and most nutritious but can also discover new and exciting varieties that you may not have tried before.