The Many Benefits of Eating Local

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables is an essential part of a healthy diet, this we’re sure you already know.  But did you know that the best way to ensure you’re consuming fresh produce is to eat local?

Since the produce and other food that you’re consuming is local, you can rest assured that it is fresh and in season.  And fresh (read: local) produce translates into more nutritious.  Fruits and vegetables lose their optimal nutritional value – vitamins C, E, A and some B vitamins begin to deteriorate – as soon as they are picked.  The longer your food takes to get to your plate, the lower nutritional value it holds.

Eating locally grown food has many benefits.  By eating local, you are not only supporting your own health, but that of the environment and your local community as well.

This article published by Life Begins at 30 highlights ten benefits of eating local, and how locally grown food can be part of an overall approach to a healthier, more sustainable and responsible lifestyle.

10 Reasons to Eat Local Food

Eating local means more for the local economy.  According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.  When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.  (reference)

Locally grown produce is fresher.  While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer’s market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.  This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.

Local food just plain tastes better.  Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours?  ‘Nuff said.

Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen.  Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be “rugged” or to stand up to the rigors of shipping.  This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.

Eating local is better for air quality and pollution than eating organic.  In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic. (reference)

Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.  By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.

Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story.  Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.

Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.  Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination. (reference)

Local food translates to more variety.  When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket.  Supermarkets are interested in selling “Name brand” fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes.  Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem

Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.

Supporting local providers supports responsible land development.  When you buy local, you give those with local open space – farms and pastures – an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.

Knowing that your money is going local is a great feeling.  When the food that you consume comes directly from local farmers, the dollars you spend stay within your community and therefore support the local economy.  That means less of each dollar you spend goes to pay for transportation, processing, packaging, marketing, distribution and other costs.

Whether you are committed to buying locally grown produce from the grocery store or your local farmer’s market, or you only eat at restaurants that source their food from local purveyors, you are making a fantastic decision.

So have you made the commitment to eating locally grown food yet?  Trust us; you will taste the difference.  Just think about it: eating food that’s less likely to have dangerous pesticides and herbicides; eating foods that are at their peak quality of freshness, nutrition and taste; yes, you can trust that eating local is indeed eating better.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients are at the core of our menu at Ceres Bistro, our Worcester, MA restaurant.  For instance…

Laurelwood Farms in Paxton, MA – Laurelwood Farms, Inc. Specialty Mushrooms is run by Al Sandberg, aka The Mushroom Man.  You can find these flavorful, colorful, drool-worthy treats in our Laurelwood Farms Oyster Mushroom & Roasted Duck Leg appetizer as well as our Veal Porterhouse Chop dinner entrée.

Sky Vegetables Sky Vegetables is an urban agriculture company that literally harvests vegetables on roof tops in urban areas.  This is truly a food to field (or in this case roof top) to fork process.  If we’re talking about job creation, improving air quality, improving building efficiency and supporting sustainable communities, Sky Vegetables proves that the sky is the limit!  You can find a product of this feel-good company in our Sky Lettuce & Farm Stand Salad on both our lunch and dinner menu.

Now you know that when you want to experience the health benefits of eating locally – and support your local community and the environment – you can stop by Ceres for a beautiful, colorful, tasteful meal.  We hope to see you here!