Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Eating Fresh Locally: More Taste, Less Cost

Eating Locally: More Taste, Less Cost

I found this great chart showing what types of fruits and veggies are in season each month in the state of North Carolina.  The NC Department of Agriculture maintains this list to encourage us all to eat healthier & eat locally.  For lists in other states, check out this link.

This time of year it's easy to buy the best tasting, freshest produce by visiting farmer's markets, roadside stands, or pick-your-own farm markets.  Ask your local grocery stores and restaurants use and sell locally grown fruits and vegetables, too!   By utilizing these state-by-state guides, you can spend less on the fresh produce you love to serve your family by purchasing what's in season right now.

For further cost cutting, learn how to properly can or freeze your fresh produce now so that you can enjoy fresh strawberries in December for example!  Another way to eat locally?  Start your own community or backyard garden!  Not only will you eat well, but it's fun and can save you money!

Why should you eat locally?  Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Produce in season gives consumers peak qualities of freshness, nutrition, and taste.  Have you ever eaten a tomato fresh off the vine?  
  2. Safer foods"Local food is often safer, too," says the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD). "Even when it's not organic, small farms tend to be less aggressive than large factory farms about dousing their wares with chemicals." Small farms are also more likely to grow more variety, too, says CNAD, protecting biodiversity and preserving a wider agricultural gene pool, an important factor in long-term food security. 
  3. Fights global warming & reduces fuel consumption,  Rich Pirog of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture reports that the average fresh food item on our dinner table travels 1,500 miles to get there.  
  4. Supports your local economy by allowing farmers to sell directly to local consumers and avoid increasing expenses for transportation, processing, packaging, refrigeration, and marketing.
The state of North Carolina is encouraging residents to eat locally with a program titled, "The 10% Campaign" in which you pledge to spend at least 10% of your food budget on locally-grown products.  

My local farmer's market is open today, I might just have to head over there and see what kind of goodies I can pick up!  The lettuce in our garden is ready to build a delicious salad so tonight just might be a full meal of locally grown meats, fruits, and veggies at our house!

Sources: http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/earthtalk-why-eat-locally.html and other links throughout article.

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