8 Benefits of Eating Locally Grown Produce
While the calendar tells us spring is only a few short weeks away, it may be hard to believe with all the mountains of snow stubbornly resisting their demise. Rest assured, spring will come, and with it all kinds of opportunities for renewal and rejuvenation. March is the perfect time to start looking into local farmers markets and to consider participating in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).
The seacoast is rich with local farms. Many of them offer the opportunity to purchase a CSA at the beginning of each growing season. A CSA is a “share” or “partial share” of the harvest, in which you receive a weekly agreed upon amount of freshly picked vegetables. Some CSA’s also include meat, fruit, flowers, eggs, or other farm products along with their vegetables. Purchasing a CSA at the beginning of the growing season is a great way to invest in local farms and to realize the many healthful benefits of eating locally grown food.
Here are eight of our favorite benefits.
- Flavor and nutrition: Produce grown locally has more time to ripen before harvest, which increases the flavor and nutrient value.
- Connection: There are lots of opportunities to meet and get to know the people who produce the foods you consume.
- Safety: With fewer steps in the process between harvest and your plate, there are fewer opportunities for contamination.
- Peace of mind: You can choose organic farms that don’t use pesticides, and you can ensure the farm uses sustainable growing practices.
- Local support: You will be supporting local farmers who are committed to working their land to produce the highest quality foods for their communities.
- Variety: Being part of a CSA encourages trying new vegetables and recipes, which is a great way to mix up your usual veggie routine.
- Wise economy: Buying from local farmers keeps your locally earned dollars in your own community.
- Community: CSA’s encourage a sense of community as you get to know the farm owners and other people who choose to buy and eat locally.
Simple Health supports local shopping in all its forms. The website http://seacoasteatlocal.org is an excellent resource for finding farmers markets. It also provides information on CSAs and lists the local participating farms. If you live outside the seacoast area here are some options for finding a market near you:
- USDA National Farmers Market Directory
- Tilth Alliance Farm Guide
- Family Farms – Local Harvest
- PBS Find a Farmers Market Near You!
As you begin your efforts to buy and eat locally, you can check out the remaining four winter farmers markets in the area at Exeter High School and Wentworth Greenhouses in Rollinsford. Enjoy the freshness and flavor of eating local produce!
Next time we will talk about in season vegetables, and provide a handy resource for you to carry with you when you shop. Just know how good you will feel as fresh produce enters each and every cell of your body. Keep up the great work and know the power of healthy, organic food choices.