It’s all about salads and green smoothies this week in the Gatti household! The lettuces in my garden are thriving this year. And we also belong to a CSA for the variety of great vegetables our local farm provides.
If you’re unfamiliar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA gives you direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers. By purchasing a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of a farm’s produce. This relationship will bypass the warehouse, so you’ll have fresh vegetables on your plate within days of being harvested.
Fresh, seasonal foods have a much higher nutrient density than foods that have been warehoused or processed before hitting your kitchen. By choosing to eat locally, you will be supporting your health, not to mention the positive impact your choice will have on local farmers, the conservation of energy and the protection of the natural environment.
For me, eating local and seasonal foods is what comes naturally… it’s what feels good. Intuitively, my body knows and craves a diet that follows the rhythms of nature.
Here are my top 7 reasons to eat locally and seasonally grown food.
Why Eat Local?
Produce that’s fully ripened in the sun (and not in the warehouse or grocery store) has far more taste and flavor. Imagine your fresh greens picked just days or even hours before they reach your kitchen… the flavor is incredible! Most fruits and vegetables taste the best right when they should be harvested.
Most produce reaches it’s nutritional peak right around harvest time as well. More sun exposure means higher levels of antioxidants. Studies have shown that green beans and spinach lose two-thirds of their vitamin C within a week of being harvested. And frozen fruit is often more nutritious than what’s at your supermarket because it’s frozen rather than shipped just after harvested.
3. Support of your Seasonal Needs
The natural cycle of fruit and vegetables is perfectly designed for our best health! The plethora of greens available in the spring help us to detoxify and shed winter heaviness and weight. The abundance of water-rich produce like watermelon and cucumber during the hot summer months support your body’s natural need for hydration. And autumn offers a bounty of grounding and nourishing produce that prepare our bodies for the colder months ahead.
Buying produce directly from your local farmer will bypass the transportation, storage and packaging costs of a traditional supermarket distribution system.
Building relationships with local farmers and CSA members builds community. Often local CSA farms will offer members the opportunity to engage with the farm environment through seasonal festivals, cooking events and opportunities to pick-your-own produce.
Purchasing food directly from local farmers is an opportunity to support small businesses and the well-being of your local community. Supporting farmers who manage their land sustainably is also an investment in more nutritious food for all of us.
Eating nutritious in-season food produced conscientiously is an excellent way to make a difference to something bigger than each of us – our environment. Seasonal foods grow with less human support in the forms of pesticides, herbicides and genetic modification. These toxic compounds contaminate the water and soil as well as our health. Seasonal foods are also typically local, reducing the transportation load on our environment as well.
Your Simple Action Plan:
Are you taking advantage of the benefits of local, seasonal foods? This week, take one small step. Visit a local farmer’s market or research a local CSA. For more information on a local CSA near you, visit localharvest.org.