the low down on local food-
REASONS TO EAT LOCAL-
Health and freshness:
Veg and fruit- Nutritional value decreases over time after a crop has been harvested so buying local means the nutritional value is still high because the food has had a shorter journey from the land to your plate. Smaller farms tend to be less aggressive than larger farms when it comes to using chemicals.
Fish- We are lucky enough to live by the sea and by supporting small local fishermen who fish responsibly we have access to fresher locally caught fish. The fishermen will get a fairer price and we get fresher fish!
Meat- Eating meat that is reared locally means you are supporting local agriculture and eating meat that can be easily traced. Building a relationship with your local farmer means you can even visit the farm and see how the animals are raised. You can buy direct from the farmer with the knowledge that the meat is fresh and tastes much nicer! You can buy bulk from a local farmer and get a better deal.
I know that when I eat the lamb from farmer Sam they have been grazing on local wild grasslands overlooking the Ocean and it makes me happy to know they were happy as opposed to buying anonymous meat from a supermarket.
Cost: Growers who sell locally need not bother about shipping and packaging costs and shelf life issues which means they can focus on selecting and growing crops that are tastier and more nutritious.
Environment: Eating local foods has less of an environmental because it travels fewer miles to get to your table therefore produces less carbon. Locally sourced foods from small farms also helps to support wildlife habitats
Seasonality: Locally grown seasonal food is more likely to have been grown naturally outdoors as opposed to been grown in synthetic conditions like heated greenhouses., therefore it tastes better and costs less.
Diversity: small growers are more likely to experiment with different and exciting crops such as lower yielding heritage varieties because they don't need to satisfy large orders like supermarkets. these crops not only taste nicer but will preserve genetic diversity by contributing to biodiversity as smaller growers tend not to use mono culture methods that drain the land of nutrients and disturb and at worst destroy ecosystems.
Economy: Food grown, processed and distributed locally has a hug positive effect on local businesses. By buying local you are supporting small local farms and food businesses which in turn creates jobs and stimulate the local economy. CSAs produce is usually vegetables, meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, bread and more recently fish and woodland.
Supporting local agriculture: A community supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership between the local community and farmers it is a way of reconnecting consumers to the land where their food is grown. Consumers can buy local fresh healthy food and know where it comes from and that it has travelled fewer food miles and comes with less packaging. Farmers can feel financially supported by their community and receive a fairer price for their products as well as building a relationship where they can respond to a customers needs.
Creating food communities:
Eating local food connects you to the food communities in your area it allows you to build a relationship with small producers, growers, farmers, bakers and to understand where your food has come from.
You can begin to make informed choices based on these relationships, your butcher might know the best place to get free range eggs, your baker might know where to get the best cheeses and tomatoes to go with their bread, this is all part of creating a food community and supporting eachother to live healthier lives and you never know you might get a few bargains as well as make a few friends along the way.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says that “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food which meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Localizing food systems can help improve food security by increasing accessibility of local fresh food to populations who may be suffering from food poverty.
Food safety: If your food comes from somewhere closer to where you live there is less of a chance of contamination or food borne illness.
Waste: Sourcing your food locally means you don't have to worry about damage to produce during transportation which will result in faster deterioration of fresh produce causing more waste. Buying from a local market means less packaging and pollution is involved i.e. you can hop on your bike and pop to a farmers market and fill your own bags up with hand picked blemish free (there may be some wonky homegrown veg at foodshed!) produce.
Click here to go to the soil association information sheet on buying local food!
CHANGE YOUR WAYS-
It is surprisingly easy to change your food eating habits start one step at a time.
Pop by to Foodshed or email us and we can advise you on how to become an eat local champion and join in some of our challenges- or if you already are we would love to hear from you and learn some of your tricks to pass on to others.