Why You Should Eat Local - Our Top 5 Reasons For Eating Local
Thank you to everyone that came along to our FREE 3-hour 'Eat Local' workshop last Saturday. We hope we were able to get inspiration for some healthy meals and tips on how to shop and eat locally. For those who missed it we have compiled our top 5 reasons for eating local and the benefits you and your community can experience.
1. Connecting communities - Eating locally means directly supporting your local farmers and the local economy
Eating locally creates more local jobs
Local food promotes agri tourism and seasonal backpackers using Stanthorpe as their fruit picking destination
Money is put directly back into our community members as opposed to the various middle people involved in distributing fruit and veg from interstate or even overseas when buying produce from supermarkets
2. Eating locally is great for the environment
Local produce doesn’t have to travel as far to get from farm to your plate. This means less petrol usage and less green house gas emissions.
Big supermarkets waste an incredible amount of food
Supermarkets have specification standards for their produce, and a lot of edible food (around 25%) is rejected at the farm simply for not being up to scratch aesthetically - for being weirdly shaped or a different colour.
Some farmers see less than half of their produce going to sale.
Supermarkets also waste produce once it finally reaches the store too, because produce can damaged or bruised through travelling to the store or from being bruised as a result of being at the bottom of the display.
These food items are all perfectly good to eat, but stores don’t trust consumers to purchase them, so they don't sell it.
Supermarkets often claim that the problem lies with the consumers because they are too picky and are not buying the ugly fruit and veg, but then we also have to consider that the supermarket customers can only buy what is available to begin with.
3. Better quality fruit and veg and Healthier for you
Because it doesn’t have to drive as far, the fruit and vegetables are left on the vine far longer meaning they are given more time to ripen. This means that they are often vine ripened as opposed to being picked and ripening en route to the destination where they are trying to be sold.
From a health perspective - Anthocyanin production has been shown to increase if the fruit and vegetables are able to fully ripen on the vine. Anthocyanin are types of phytochemical (natural plant chemicals). They are compounds found mostly in vegetables and may protect against cardiovascular disease, diabetes, some cancers, neurological diseases and vision problems.
This also means there is greater opportunity for fruit and veg to be contaminated.
Fruits and veggies sold in big supermarkets have been in cold storage for days or weeks on end vs. 24 hours within farm to market.
Fruits and veggies are often artificially ripened with a chemical called ethylene. This gas is naturally produced by fruits as they ripen = I.e. apples. However, big supermarkets gas veggies out with ethylene in their cold storage to ripen them before selling.
Some fruits and vegetables are more susceptible to nutrient losses during transportation = broccoli particularly.
Less spoilage from transportation
I remember learning at uni from a food scientist that ugly fruit and veg may actually be better for us. This is because the blemishes, dimples, scars, and scabs that appear on the skin and leaves are a sign that the fruit has battled its environment / a biting or gnawing insect or surface infection – and still won, which means it is stronger for it.
Antioxidants and healthful phenolic compounds are what plants release to ward off bugs because they are bitter and don’t taste very nice. When they are under attack - they up regulate the production of this in the produce so that next time they are better protected.
4. Better for Food safety
The less steps there are in getting the food from the farms to your plate, the less chances there are for contamination.
You can ask the farmers or sellers directly how/where the food was grown. You can find out more information on the types of pesticides they use (if any)
5. Eating locally = Eating Seasonally
Even if you are buying fruit and vegetables from bigger supermarket chains - the more seasonally you eat the more likely that those fruits and vegetables are grown in Australia. It doesn’t make sense to ship Apricots from the US if its Apricot season here in Australia for big market chains. So if you need to buy some fruits and veg from lets say woolies, try to go seasonally because its more likely to be grown in Australia at the very least.
When they grow in the conditions that are favourable, they are given an opportunity to grow optimally. Foods are most flavoursome, abundant and least expensive when you eat seasonally.