Why eat locally?
If we want to feel good and perform well it’s critical to think about what we put into our bodies. This goes for food, drink, information, beauty products and the environment. When we consider what type of food to eat there are many different diets, lifestyle choices and confusion. Rather than supporting one diet or the next we want to talk about where our food comes from. We’re sharing why we choose to eat locally and some reasons you might choose to as well.
When you eat local food it means your food has travelled less from harvest to your basket. Think about going on a long road trip or a flight. You often feel tired and wrinkled. Anything but fresh. That’s how your food feels when it travels 5000km to get to you. In order to get to you ‘ripe,’ it has to be picked when it is unripe. Most tomatoes are in fact picked when green then sprayed with an ethylene gas that turns them red. The result is a hard, unripe, tasteless tomato.
Some produce will ripen slightly on the trip over but they lose nutrients and taste. In addition, they are usually sprayed by preservatives, disinfectants, and pesticides to keep them from rotting, wilting or being eaten. When you get local produce it’s not to say that they don’t have preservatives, disinfectants or pesticides. However local foods don’t have the same need to be preserved for a long bumpy journey. Additionally, with the food being produced locally it is easier to trace the food production chain to find out more about the condition it was grown and processed in. Perhaps the best reason, however, is that when you eat locally your food generally tastes much better. That’s because it’s picked when it’s ripe. When the sun and soil have sweetened its juices, fattened its flesh and fill it full of nutrients.
Did you know that most of the shrimp caught in North America are shipped to Asia for sale, while Asia ships most of its shrimp to North America? This is just one example of the huge waste of resources in the food supply chain. Transportation is argued to be the leading cause of climate change. Transportation of food constitutes as a huge percentage of this. When you eat local, you’re supporting the reduction of green house gas emissions and resource consumption.
Support your local economy
When you eat locally you’re supporting local businesses and families as well the continuation of local farmers. It is becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to maintain a sustainable income as costs of imported foods are cheap and the costs of living and producing food in North America is high. There has been a steady decline in a number of local farmers and if we want to continue to enjoy local foods that means that we must support local farmers, even if that means paying a little more. If you’re wondering why you would want to support food production in your area other than the fact that it tastes better, it’s also good for the ecosystem and for food security in our area not mention just a couple reasons.
Another amazing option for acquiring local food is foraging. If you’re feeling wild and interested in learning more about plants in your area foraging is a fun option. We suggest starting with something easy to identify, to find and to harvest such as berries. The Greater Vancouver area is full of many easy to identify berries such as blackberries, raspberries, salmon berries and huckleberries. We suggest proceeding with caution however when sourcing a new food to make sure you have correctly identified what you are about to eat as some look-a-likes can be poisonous. Going with someone who knows what their doing is always the best option.
As we mentioned above, local foods tend to be higher in nutrition and superior in taste. We’ve found that these traits are even greater when the foods have been growing in the wild due to the richness of the soil, surrounding ecosystem and the natural elements. Not only that but foraging is basically FREE food! Free organic, wild, nutritious food.
Perhaps our favourite part about eating local weather its foraging or going to a farmers market for food is the idea of stacking. We went out foraging this past week and we collected all these amazing berries. Not only did we get food but we also got in some quality natural movement. When we’re out collecting we’re getting nutritious movement by having to reach, squat, pull, balance and carry.
At the same time, we also got to spend some much needed time in nature as well as time connecting with friends. Lastly, we also took advantage of our time together as movers and lovers of nature to get some movement photos. If we had spent an hour doing each of those activities separately that would have taken us 5 hours rather than accomplishing all these components in one outing.
There are clearly many good reasons to eat locally. If you’re excited about making more of a commitment to eat locally we have one last suggestion for you; The 80/20 rule. It’s easy to get carried away when we get introduced to something new that we feel excited about supporting. That being said, balance is always best and helps to prevent burn out by allowing some leeway. Try eating local 80% of the time and cutting some slack the other 20% of the time. That way you can still enjoy eating some favourite treats that don’t grow around here like avocados and coffee.
In the winter time, you might want to scale this down a little more since there is less locally available food around. We encourage you to research what others are eating and alternatives they have tried for staples that import such as local butter or tallow instead of coconut oil or local wild rice instead of rice from Asia.
To find a farmers market in your area you can go to http://eatlocal.org/