We have a little garden in our backyard that my Aunt Ann put in. I had very little to do with it. Considering my epic failure with my garden last year (check out the related post), I’m a little reluctant to get back into it. That said, a few days ago I ate a little strawberry from this garden. And man, oh man, was it good.
Like a flavour mule just kicked me in the mouth.
Earlier that week I had purchased a bunch of big, fat strawberries from somewhere in the US. Absolute garbage. I’d have gotten more flavour from the plastic container it came in.
Local food just tastes better. Period.
Here are a few other benefits of eating close to home:
- Local food is healthier. The shorter the time between when food is picked and when it’s eaten, the more nutritional value it will retain. Local food that hasn’t traveled hundreds or thousands of miles over several days will be that much better for you.
- Eating local is better for the environment. The less distance food has to travel to get to our plates, the less oil is needed to transport it. The average North American meal travels 2,400 km to get from the field to our plate.
- It supports the local economy. Buying local keeps the money in the community and supports local farmers.
- It reconnects us with our food. Whether you’re digging the earth yourself in your backyard garden or chatting with the farmer at the local market, eating close to home connects you with food production. In a world of processed, pesticide-ridden and genetically-modified food, it’s nice to know more about what we’re eating.
Ideas for action:
- Start your own garden. Start small so you don’t sabotage yourself. My brother Damien (who is a great organic gardener) recommends the book “The All New Square Foot Gardener” by Mel Bartholomew as a starting point.
- Join a Community Shared Agricultural (CSA) program. CSAs typcially involve a system of weekly deliveries or pick-ups of local fruits and veggies. It’s a great way to eat local, supports your community and keeps you in touch with harvest cycles. Do a quick Google search to find CSAs in your area.
- Try the 100 Mile Diet challenge. This is something I’d love to try (maybe after my Buy Nothing New challenge?). As the name suggests, the idea is to only eat food that’s been produced within 100 miles of where you live. Check out http://100milediet.org/ for more info.
- Check out your Farmers Markets. Awesome food, a chance to meet the people who grow your food and a nice change of pace from the grocery store. Make note of the days Farmers Markets are running in your community and get into the habit of going. Invite a friend to go along with you and make it a fun outing.
- Look beyond the price tag. Starting your own garden or doing a 100 Mile Diet may be too daunting. At the very least though, get better at noticing where your food is coming from when you’re out shopping. Make a conscious effort to choose food that’s been grown as close to home as possible.
- Become a WWOOFer. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. According to their website, “WWOOF links volunteers with organic growers, and helps people share more sustainable ways of living… In return for volunteer help, WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles.” Check out www.wwoof.ca for more info.
As summer gets underway I’m very excited about eating peaches that aren’t rock hard and tomatoes that don’t taste like cardboard. Yay local food!
Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.