Why should we eat local?

“Imagine if we had a food system that actually produced wholesome food. Imagine if it produced that food in a way that restored the land. Imagine if we could eat every meal knowing these few simple things: What it is we’re eating. Where it came from. How it found its way to our table. And what it really cost. If that was the reality, then every meal would have the potential to be a perfect meal. We would not need to go hunting for our connection to our food and the web of life that produces it. We would no longer need any reminding that we eat by the grace of nature, not industry, and that what we’re eating is never anything more or less than the body of the world. I don’t want to have to forage every meal. Most people don’t want to learn to garden or hunt. But we can change the way we make and get our food so that it becomes food again—something that feeds our bodies and our souls. Imagine it: Every meal would connect us to the joy of living and the wonder of nature. Every meal would be like saying grace.” – Michael Pollan
My family is currently on a mission to feed ourselves only with local foods. When we embarked on this journey several years ago, I had no idea how difficult it would be to source the foods we were so accustomed to. I also didn’t realize how easy it would be to fall back into the current standard way of eating.  I knew I needed to change our diet, and our thinking, drastically.

What was I willing to give up? Certainly not my coffee..

How could I source local grains? This is still a problem for me, as I have yet to find a farmer who grows organic grains and sells in bulk. Einkorn anyone? Wheat and oats would be just fine too.

No, Wal-Mart is not local. Neither is Kroger. Costco? Sorry. But, what are we to do when it is so difficult to find foods in our area? And by area, I mean a 50 mile radius.

We need more families growing their own food in their own backyards, and then sharing with neighbors and friends. We need more farmers willing to go against modern methods of raising meat, and start raising grass fed beef, pastured chickens, and milk fed pork. This is what good food is, and there are people ready and willing to buy it.

A Few Important Benefits of Eating Local

Flavor and Freshness

The flavor of a fresh vine-ripened tomato cannot be rivaled by any grocery store purchased tomato. These tomatoes, along with every other vegetable, are picked before readiness, doused with chemicals, and then shipped across country to end up in your grocery cart. What could be better than knowing that you can walk out to your backyard, or to your local Farmer’s Market, and get a cucumber straight off the vine? Last night we made fajitas with local beef, our own chicken, and homemade tortillas. I was preparing the plate for the kiddos when I said, “Hey! We need lettuce.” So, what did I do? I sent the husband out to the garden to gather Arugula. It is November, and we have a garden full of delicious winter hardy veggies tucked safely under row covers. Not very many people realize this is possible in winter, but it is! We CAN feed ourselves through all seasons!

The ground beef you purchase at your local grocery store, or by way of hamburger at a fast food joint, actually consists of a collection of animals. The latest estimate is over 100 different cows in a single hamburger patty. The best way to avoid this, and get the highest quality and flavor? Purchase locally raised beef. Grass fed is best.

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Health

The health benefits linked to eating raw and local foods are enormous. Numerous modern diseases can be directly linked to the current standard American diet. We are simply unaware of what is healthy. Big business marketing has gotten so good, they can convince us that a box of organic fruit snacks is healthy. Feeding our children boxes and bags of “whole grain” cereals covered in sugar and laced with chemicals is the “healthy choice” for breakfast. But really, how can we know better? We are tricked into believing that what these big businesses say is “truth”. We are too trusting, and it is time we educate ourselves on what we feed our families.

I read the other day that what we put into our bodies now can actually affect our future generations. The food we consume today can play a role genetically in our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. This has really stuck with me. How can I eat right now to benefit my future offspring?

There is a stigma that has been linked to raw milk over the last few decades. The details regarding this stigma will be saved for a later post, but unpasteurized raw milk from cattle grazed on grass is a wonderful living food. Teaming with beneficial bacteria necessary for a healthy gut, raw milk has been linked to improving seasonal allergies, psoriasis, eczema, and weight loss, among many other things. Those who are unable to drink conventional store bought milk generally have no problem at all with raw milk. However, it is always important to know where your raw milk comes from, and that the farmer you are purchasing from maintains vital safety standards.

watercolor cows

Support Local Families

Shopping local keeps your dollars within your community. The salary of Costco’s CEO is $6.5 million. Wal-Mart’s $25.6 million and Kroger $10.1 million. We can take our hard earned dollars and put it back into the pockets of our friends and family. This does not mean only shopping for our food locally, but also searching out local goods. Local soaps and candles. Locally made clothing, pottery, and locally grown flowers. The money you spend locally will then be re-invested locally. Support local small businesses and everyone will reap the benefits.

Support Community

The fellowship that naturally occurs around food is amazing. Getting to know your farmer, vendors at your local farmer’s market, and others who purchase directly from the farm can build lasting friendships, and encourages a wonderful sense of community.

Sustainability

On average, food travels 1,500 miles from farm to your grocery store. According to Michael Pollan, author and local food enthusiast, if you think of a bag of pre-washed mixed lettuce grown in California and then purchased in New York, it takes 56 calories of fossil fuel energy to deliver only 1 calorie of food energy to your plate. Now try and imagine that spread out all over America.

The United States no longer requires Country of Origin labeling (COOL) on turkey, pork, and beef products. Costco can purchase their beef from other countries, have it shipped all the way to America, and still label it as a U.S. product. We have no way of knowing where our meat comes from. The only way we can know the quality of the food we feed our family is by getting to know your food by purchasing locally.

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Here are some easy changes you can make today.

  1. Avoid processed foods.
  2. Eat raw foods.
  3. Visit Eat Wild and Local Harvest to find a farmer near you.
  4. Cook at home.
  5. Eat at home.
  6. Eat slow.
  7. Gather around the table with your loved ones.
  8. Make eating good homemade food a priority in your life.
  9. Share with your friends and family the importance of knowing your food.
  10. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Purchase what you can locally.

-April

 

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2 Comments on “Why should we eat local?

  1. Thank you for the informational post. I agree we are lazy. So easy to go to Dillons with my grocery list. I will ponder this. Very well writen.
    • There are some things we just don't have the option of buying local! If more people were to participate in growing and purchasing locally, we would have more variety.

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