Eating locally benefits the regional economy, your health, and environment. Many small farms produce all-natural or organic crops, and use sustainable farming practices. This creates food with fewer chemicals and hormones, which is good for you and good for the environment. Local food does not have to travel hundreds, if not thousands, of miles to reach you, which not only provides you with fresher food, but cuts down on CO2 emissions from shipping.
Learning more about food production is an added advantage. By getting to know your local farmers, you can learn more about what you eat, and the amount of work and resources that go into what you set on your table.
Food for thought:
The average American lives 60 miles from an apple orchard, but the apples sold in most grocery stores travel 1700 miles to get there. With typical grocery store food, approximately 3.5 cents of each dollar goes to the farmer. When you buy food from a farmers’ market or farm stand, approximately 80-90 cents of each dollar goes to the farmer.
Where can I find local foods?
It is becoming easier to buy all-natural and organic foods in grocery stores. While Trader Joe’s focuses on natural and organic foods, Farm Fresh, Ukrop’s, Kroger, and Food Lion have sections dedicated to these products. However, it still can be difficult to find locally grown food in grocery stores. Try looking for the “Virginia’s Finest” and “Virginia Grown” labels.
Organic and all-natural foods are free of pesticides, hormones, and chemicals frequently used in agriculture. These foods are a healthy choice for you and the environment. However, when buying organic products, consider where they come from. Many local farms produce all-natural foods but do not have the means to pursue organic certification. Think about the benefits of buying an apple from a nearby orchard versus an organic apple from halfway around the globe. Locally grown produce is often more beneficial, because of the economic advantage to the farmer and the smaller carbon footprint.
Want to eat really local?
Grow a garden! Start small, with a few herbs and vegetables and see how it grows from there. You can use your yard waste and food scraps to make compost, rather than using artificial fertilizer.
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