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As part of a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to eat raw, organic, fresh, local foods. It’s easy to understand why you should eat raw, organic, fresh foods, but understanding why you should eat local foods is a little more complex. It might just seem like a mainstream trend with the rise of farm-to-table restaurants, but eating local foods not only has a positive impact on the planet, but your physical health as well.

Definition

The definition of “local food” isn’t set in stone and is considered a subjective term. For some, it means they buy their food from the farmer down the street. For others, it means purchasing food grown within your state or region. Typically, you can consider food local if it’s grown within 100 miles of where it is sold. Understanding where their food was grown and what farming practices were implemented to produce it is important. This allows consumers to develop a connection to their food, understand what they’re putting in their body, and support the farmers they believe in.

Environmental Benefits

Buying local food can be better for the environment for a variety of reasons. As you well know, one of the root causes of climate change is food and how it is grown. When you consume locally-grown food, you’re reducing the distance the food travels from farm to table—food miles. In turn, this reduces CO2 emissions. Locally grown food may travel 100 miles, whereas other food travels an average of 1,500 miles. There are times when food produced farther away may be more sustainable, whether because it’s grown more sustainably or it’s in season.

When you buy local food, you’re not only helping the planet, you’re helping the farmer. You’re supporting them and their business. In turn, they’re less likely to sell their land to developers. This helps preserve green space, another positive for the planet.

Health Benefits

Local foods tend to offer more nutrients. Why? Because they have to travel fewer food miles, they’re picked when they’re ripe, in-season, and packed full of nutrients. On the contrary, food that travels long distances is picked before it’s ripe. Sometimes it is artificially ripened using ethylene gas. Buying local means you’ll also be getting food that is in season. Some studies show that when food is in season, it contains more nutrients than when it isn’t in season.

Oftentimes, foods grown from local farmers contain fewer or no pesticides. They may be employing organic farming methods, but don’t have the money to afford expensive certification fees. Another benefit of eating locally that you may not have considered is the fact that you’ll be eating foods grown in an environment you’re exposed to. Your body will be used to the environmental factors the food is grown in, as opposed to if you eat foods that are grown outside of your region.

Consuming local food will not only help the planet and improve your health, it tastes better, offers more variety, and gives a nice boost to the local economy.