Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Easy Ways to Incorporate Local Foods Into Your Diet

A photo of several different kinds of vegetables sorted into separate buckets. There is a sign that reads, "Fresh, local, produce."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Over the past few years, people have become more conscious of the fact that it’s better for the earth when consumers eat locally. It saves gas because food isn’t traveling as far. It’s also helps boost the local economy by supporting small farms. As an added bonus, fruits and vegetables that have been picked at the proper time will taste better than their chemically ripened counterparts. 

The one downside is that eating locally is more expensive, right? Wrong. With a little planning and some research, eating locally can be both healthy and affordable.

An easy way to ensure that you are eating local food is to shop at farmers markets. Many people don't realize that farmers market vegetables are sold at a competitive rate to the supermarket. And if you don’t live near a farmers market? Support stores that label the origins of their food. At the very least, commit to buying items that come from your state. And if your supermarket doesn't have any locally grown/raised food? Make sure that you express your desire for these items to store management. Businesses operate on a supply and demand basis, and for that reason, they are always looking to please customers. Don’t have time to make it to a farmers market or read through food labels? That's understandable, simply order a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) plan. Many local farmers put together weekly or monthly boxes of produce that are distributed directly to consumers, supplying you with fresh, local, seasonal produce.

And if you're worried about giving up fruits that aren't in season during the winter, don’t be. There are plenty of ways to preserve fruits and veggies so you don’t have to buy ones that have been shipped from the opposite side of the hemisphere. Berries are super easy to freeze, as are most fruits. Be careful though, because vegetables should be blanched before freezing. Canning and drying are other suitable options as well.

Don’t forget that you always have the option of growing your own plants. Herbs can be grown in windowsills or on balconies. But no matter what you choose, you’ll find that eating fresh, local produce will be a great addition to your diet.