There’s a movement sweeping the nation. You may have heard of the phrase buy local, eat local, but what does that mean? Eating local is a great idea, but where do you start?

What the heck is a Locavore?

You probably remember from history, or biology about words ending in ‘vore’. Think herbivore (plant eating animals), carnivore (meat eating animals) or even omnivore (animals who don’t really care as long as it is edible.)  So it only follows that locavore means those people who consume locally grown food and use locally produced products, or at least try to remain within a certain radius from home. Basically, if it’s on a truck for hours or days to get from the farm to your table, it doesn’t qualify as local.

Are there any health benefits for you or for your community? 

So what exactly are the benefits to your health when you are a locavore? One of the most commonly stated health benefits is that food that is grown near you is believed to help your body fight off allergens. For instance, eating locally made honey will help you during allergy season because the same pollen that your body is trying to ward off is what the bees used to make the honey. Therefore, by eating the honey, you are helping your body develop antibodies that will help fight off the allergens.

Not only will your body thank you for eating local, but you also have the power to help sustain small businesses that count on you to keep going. You get the chance to see exactly what goes into your food and the local businesses are responsible to you, not some corporate entity. By voting with your dollars, you are telling these local businesses that you love what they do or you believe they could be better stewards of what they have. Either way, your dollar is working to influence your community.

Fresh just tastes better

I tell my husband that I married him for his father’s garden. Right after our first date, my husband brought me fresh strawberries from his dad’s garden. Then came the tomatoes and corn and cucumbers. Oh my goodness! If you’ve never tasted a ripe cantaloupe that was picked off the vine just a few hours earlier, or a big juicy tomato fresh off the vine in the garden, well then you just don’t know what you are missing.

When a fruit or vegetable is picked when it is ripe rather than picked green and hoping that it ripens on the truck, the taste is amazing!  Produce was designed to ripen a certain way, usually on the vine or tree or in the ground.  When we prematurely pluck it to get it shipped across country, we seriously defeat the ways of nature. The result? Produce that doesn’t taste the way nature intended it to.

Does buying local provide better nutrition?

It is amazing how much of a fruit or vegetable’s nutrients develop during the ripening stage while still attached to the plant. During that stage, the soil pours in vitamins and minerals that are essential in order to ripen the produce; the very same nutrients essential to your health. By pulling your food from the ground or off the vine before it is ripe, you are losing out on nutrients your body counts on to maintain its health – your health!

Eating local is more than just a fad… it’s a way of life. There’s nothing more delicious, nutritious, healthy, and economy-boosting than being a locavore in your very own hometown.