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Eat Local: A 30-day Challenge (Guest Post)

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Shelley Seale:

Shelley’s an Austin-based freelance Writer & Author, Vagabond and Dreamer. She’s currently on a year of month-long lifestyle projects, doing a different experiment every 30 Days. Follow her progress here.

I love food. I love healthy & natural. I love Austin and the cool people we have here. I love shopping for food and I really, really love cooking food. So all of these things combine to make me a perfect locavore.

As a freelance writer and author, I’ve undergone a total lifestyle experiment for 2011. I call it “30 Days at a Time” and am blogging about it at http://30days2011.wordpress.com. Every 30 days during the year of 2011, I am taking on a new project – some of the ones I have completed include meditating every day, wearing only 6 items of clothing for a month, giving or volunteering every day, and living sustainably.

My current 30-Day project is Eating Local. So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover in.gredients – which I actually came across during my last project on Sustainability. As an East Austinite myself, I support this terrific concept and will donate and spread the word through my writing. I can’t wait for it to open!

I have always loved going to farmers markets, and fortunately I live in a place where being a locavore is relatively easy. Not only is eating whole foods that are locally and organically grown much healthier for us, they also just quite simply taste a whole lot better. Like living sustainably, it’s not new or trendy or hippie – it is extremely old fashioned. We have, as a society, become completely disassociated from where our food comes from, how it is produced, and what is done to it before it goes into our bodies.

Here are a few reasons why Eating Local is the way to go!

  • Eating local means more for the local economy.  According to a study by the New Economics Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy.  When businesses are not owned locally, money leaves the community at every transaction.
  • Locally grown produce is fresher.  While produce that is purchased in the supermarket or a big-box store has been in transit or cold-stored for days or weeks, produce that you purchase at your local farmer’s market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase.  This freshness not only affects the taste of your food, but the nutritional value which declines with time.
  • Local food just plain tastes better.  Ever tried a tomato that was picked within 24 hours?  ‘Nuff said.
  • Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen. Because the produce will be handled less, locally grown fruit does not have to be “rugged” or to stand up to the rigors of shipping.  This means that you are going to be getting peaches so ripe that they fall apart as you eat them, figs that would have been smashed to bits if they were sold using traditional methods, and melons that were allowed to ripen until the last possible minute on the vine.
  • Eating local is better for air quality and pollution. In a March 2005 study by the journal Food Policy, it was found that the miles that organic food often travels to our plate creates environmental damage that outweighs the benefit of buying organic from farther away.
  • Buying local food keeps us in touch with the seasons.  By eating with the seasons, we are eating foods when they are at their peak taste, are the most abundant, and the least expensive.
  • Buying locally grown food is fodder for a wonderful story. Whether it’s the farmer who brings local apples to market or the baker who makes local bread, knowing part of the story about your food is such a powerful part of enjoying a meal.
  • Eating local protects us from bio-terrorism.  Food with less distance to travel from farm to plate has less susceptibility to harmful contamination.
  • Local food translates to more variety.  When a farmer is producing food that will not travel a long distance, will have a shorter shelf life, and does not have a high-yield demand, the farmer is free to try small crops of various fruits and vegetables that would probably never make it to a large supermarket.  Supermarkets are interested in selling “Name brand” fruit: Romaine Lettuce, Red Delicious Apples, Russet Potatoes.  Local producers often play with their crops from year to year, trying out Little Gem Lettuce, Senshu Apples, and Chieftain Potatoes.
  • Supporting local providers supports responsible land development. When you buy local, you give those with local open space – farms and pastures – an economic reason to stay open and undeveloped.

Written by kbrotherslane

July 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

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