Whilst presenting at a Healthy Gardening Programme yesterday over in Castlefinn on the subject of ‘Sustainability and Self Sufficiency ’, I was talking about the concept of buying things from local markets and how today local produce is diminished due to the globalization and availability of products of international brands. One question I put to the Gardening Group was – how many of us stuff our ‘weekly shopping’ with processed foods loaded with preservatives? as we well know that processed and preserved foods are not good for our health and they can cause several problems in the long run.
Yesterday I was attempting to bring another choice to the table! GO FOR FRESH AND LOCAL FOOD!
WHY NOT ‘go for fresh and local food’ as most of the Healthy Gardening Projects this summer believe the food that we eat should not only taste better, but, should also provide us with all the essential nutrients and health benefits!
So what is Local Food? The term ‘local food’ is a generic term and has several connotations. It can be used to define the food that is grown and sold in the same townland, village or town. On the other hand, it can also mean the food that is directly sold by the farmer or local producer to the consumer (not necessarily grown in the same place); rather than it being processed and packaged in between. In either of the cases, local food is the food that is grown in a short proximity of the consumer and sold directly to him. It is as good as growing food in your own garden and consuming it fresh. The foodstuffs that are included under local food are fruits and vegetables that are grown locally; or even bakery products and other foodstuff like jams and cheese that are prepared using local ingredients, and served fresh. You must have come across foods in shop tagged as ‘local’. But, what are the advantages of choosing local food over processed food?
What are the local food benefits – I believe when you go to the local country market to buy food, you can interact with the farmer or producer who has grown the food that you will be consuming. There is health, economic as well as environmental benefits of local food. Let us take a look at them in detail. One of the biggest advantages of going for local food is that the food is fresh. As it is grown at a close distance and sold immediately, there are no preservatives added to it. Secondly, as the food is fresh, it has a longer shelf life and will last longer in your refrigerator.
Another health benefit associated with local food is that it is more nutritious and contains all the essential nutrients. As the time in between the farm and table is very less, the nutrients in the food do not get washed off. Therefore, it is always beneficial to go for local food. Your small contribution in buying only local food can help reduce global warming. As no transportation is required for transporting food, there will be decrease in the use of fossil fuel.
Secondly, as few chemicals are used for these products, the environment is protected.
When talking about the economic benefits of local food, note that buying local products can boost the local economy. The farmers or local producers who sell products directly to the consumers will receive the full retail value for the products.
The local food movement, as it is called, also helps in retaining the local food traditions and customs. Therefore, the place will retain its individuality through this.
Lastly, local food tastes a lot better as it is fresh and does not contain any unwanted ingredients like preservatives, flavour enhancers, etc. Secondly, buying seasonal foods is also a good option as they are inexpensive.
If you wish to make healthy food choices, then local food is the best thing. As there are several economic, environmental as well as health benefits of local food, opting for local food is definitely a good idea. So, contribute in reducing global warming and prevention of diseases by making a start right now.
So this week end call and make your way to the next local market near you!